Catch-up digitization, better synergies, international appeal – yes, the Senate of Franziska Giffey (SPD) also wants to focus on Berlin’s largest sector in terms of economic and research policy: the health care system. And maybe that will also be made clear by two or three subordinate clauses of the health senator.

When Ulrike Gote (Greens) was asked by researchers a few days ago about necessary animal experiments, the health senator reacted as follows: She didn’t know why she was latently accused of making it difficult for laboratory doctors. Even as a Green, Gote signaled that she is pursuing a pragmatic approach with a view to the animal experiments that will be necessary in the foreseeable future.

The red-green-red Senate is at least theoretically based on the path to the “Health City 2030” outlined by former Prime Minister Michael Müller: with the Charité as the nucleus, Berlin should attract international pharmaceutical companies, nursing scientists and medical technicians.

Senator Gote heads the corresponding super department, because after the 2021 election, health and science were combined in one administration. Now all nursing homes, the district health authorities, the hospitals and the universities, including the Charité as Europe’s largest university clinic, are managed from one house.

But the “2030 road” remains rocky, as the CDU’s question on laboratory experiments with animals discussed in the House of Representatives a few days ago shows: Although only around five percent of animal experiment applications are rejected as improper, the responsible state office does not grant up to 20 percent of the permits that are due in the legal period: There are so many test regulations, it is said that the official staff is not enough. The political commitment of Giffey and Gote cannot make us forget the lack of experts.

There is also a lack of staff in nursing homes, clinics and the large companies in the industry. The Senate knows the situation and wants to finally lay the foundation stone for the Charité training academy and the state-owned Vivantes clinics this year – that was actually planned for 2021.

Because there are not only vacancies in hospitals and health authorities, Charité boss Heyo Kroemer always points out that only a massive IT boost, consistent digitization can mitigate the consequences of the worsening shortage of skilled workers.

[Under the motto “The healthcare industry in Berlin-Brandenburg: green, strong, innovative – is that really possible?” is the 6th Tagesspiegel specialist forum for healthcare management on Wednesday, May 18, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. You can register and participate online here.]

The coalition agreement states: “The possibilities of digitization are being actively used in all areas.” However, clinic managers are currently asking the Senate not to further complicate the already sluggish digitization, i.e. the electronic processing of patient data.

Berlin’s hospital law stipulates that patient data may only be processed outside of the respective clinic in exceptional cases. At the same time, according to an argument from the clinics, sensitive data on diagnoses, insurance and treatments from external IT specialists should be better protected.

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Mayor Giffey vowed to speed up processes elsewhere to the extent permitted. When Charité and Bayer agreed in April to set up a joint center for gene and cell therapy at the Nordhafen so that research results can be implemented more quickly than before in everyday clinical practice, the head of the Senate agreed that the state wanted the builders to be “with very high priority” during the inevitable visits to the authorities ” support.

After all, not only large corporations are expanding their Berlin branches. The life science companies Avi Medical, Atai and T-knife recently moved into new premises in a prime location in Berlin-Mitte. T-knife is a Berlin-based biotech company that has long been internationally known and focuses on combating tumors using T-cell therapies.

Medical start-ups are now also settling in the surrounding area. In any case, the Senate and the state government in Potsdam like to talk about a region, the so-called healthcare industry cluster Berlin-Brandenburg. If this transnational cluster is considered, then 383,000 employees turn over 28 billion euros a year. A cross-state cluster management system supported by the Senate was set up in 2010 under the “HealthCapital” brand.

It writes: “All actors benefit from the special advantages of the capital region, such as the short distances to federal politics, health insurance companies and associations as well as top university medicine and research.”

This should not hide the fact that Brandenburg has the lowest density of doctors in Germany: there are fewer than 190 doctors for every 100,000 inhabitants, while in city states like Berlin there are up to 290 doctors for the same number of inhabitants. The competition for skilled workers will not only intensify between individual research institutions, companies and associations, but also between Berlin and Brandenburg, despite all the cooperation.