Investing in Healthcare is crucial

In ten years, between 2010 and 2019, 25.000 ordinary hospital beds were lost, from 215.000 to 190.000; the number of nursing homes dropped from 1.165 to 1,054; and the number of employees also dropped by more than 42.300, from 646,000 to 603,000 as stated by Forum of Scientific Societies of Hospital and University Clinicians (FoSSC). FoSSC also focuses on the financial side: in ten years, investments in healthcare have decreased by 37 billion euros.

The direct result of these political choices is the collapse of the hospital network, dramatically expressed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Besides the initial lack of protocols and adequate treatment for Covid in the first period, without any vaccine and clear directions, we cannot forget images of crowded hospitals, intensive care units and ordinary beds. These images also impacted on patients with other diseases, often serious ones, who were left behind.

Francesco Cognetti, oncologist and Forum coordinator, declares on Corriere della Sera: “hospitals had already reached their limit due to short-sighted politics. After this pandemic period hospitals risk facing a collapse”.

On May 20, the Council of State started a new reform on territorial assistance supported by PNRR (National Recovery and Resilience Plan) funds. The reform includes community houses for home therapy, integration between health and social care, digitisation, involvement of pharmacies in the network.

Nevertheless, this reform may not be enough. We can possibly settle for the territorialisation process, which should affect daily life and not emergency situations or severe pathologies and, at the same time, lingering with the current and clearly inadequate hospitals network and emergency management. According to FoSSC, the first step must be increasing the number of hospital beds. The European average is 500 per 100,000 inhabitants. Italy is far below 350.