Switzerland’s emergency services are at the point of collapse, according to Vincent Ribordy of the Swiss Society of Emergency and Rescue Medicine, reported RTS.
The current workload is at an unprecedented level, said Ribordy. According to the newspaper SonntagsZeitung, with nearly 14,800 unfilled jobs, no sector has as many unfilled vacancies in Switzerland as healthcare. Switzerland is seeking nearly 4,000 doctors, a record, according to the newspaper.
Vincent Frochaux, the head of medicine in a hospital in the canton of Valais, echoed the same view. The problem is nationwide and linked to a shortage of staff. A hospital in Martigny has had to close its emergency service at night due to a shortage of personnel.
Frochaux describes a vicious circle. Experienced people are leaving because they are exhausted. They are replaced by younger less experienced staff who take longer to complete the same tasks. The slack is then taken up more seasoned workers who end up worn out. We hope nighttime closures are temporary, but we cannot reopen at nights unless we are able to recruit enough staff, he said.
However, despite the current challenges, those with life threatening injuries can always be treated, said Vincent Ribordy. But screening is now tighter. In addition to tighter screening, the risk of mistakes is higher and the treatment may not always of the level expected. For example, anaesthesia my be replaced with laughing gas or opioids if an anaesthesiologist is unavailable.
According to Ribordy, staff are demoralised, suffering from mental and psychological stress or burnout and are turning their backs on the profession.
To fix the problem the Society representative recommends improving working conditions, in particular cutting the number of working hours. For example, the head of an emergency department could work 50 hours a week, with 65% of the time worked between 7pm and 7am or on weekends or public holidays. Ribordy also thinks patients should change their mindset. People need to understand that they should not come us for everything. In many cases pharmacies and family doctors can treat them.