Eine Intensivfachpflegerin betreut auf der Intensivstation des Gemeinschaftskrankenhauses Havelhöhe einen Covid-19-Patienten. +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

Berlin’s state policy will soon discuss a nursing chamber. The CDU intends to present a corresponding draft law in August.

“Especially in the corona pandemic, it has become all too clear how important well-trained and fairly paid nurses are,” said CDU MP Christian Gräff, chairman of the health committee in the House of Representatives, to the Tagesspiegel. “The situation will worsen dramatically in the aging population.”

A professional organization with far-reaching powers will help care in hospitals, homes and outpatient services. “That’s why we are working on a law for a Berlin nursing chamber and will submit an application promptly,” said Gräff. “If the coalition is about good care, Red-Green-Red will certainly support us.”

All members of a profession must join a chamber. As a corporation under public law, it is granted quasi-sovereign tasks by the state, so it has more power than voluntary professional associations. A chamber issues guidelines and examines processes, thereby shaping an industry, which also forms the self-confidence of the employees. The state only has overall supervision over the chambers.

Chambers are a state matter. They are available for various activities, mostly for professions known as “liberal professions” that require a degree: doctors, pharmacists, notaries, lawyers, doctors, tax consultants. The former health senator Dilek Kalayci (SPD) was open to a debate about a chamber. In 2015, the then Health Senator Mario Czaja (CDU) specifically suggested founding a nursing chamber. In a survey, 59 percent of 1,200 nurses were in favor of a chamber, tending to be more in hospitals than in retirement homes.

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It is not always clear whether the majority of nurses want a chamber. There is currently the state nursing chamber of Rhineland-Palatinate and the nursing chamber of North Rhine-Westphalia. In Lower Saxony, the nursing chamber, which was only founded in 2017, was dissolved in 2021. The state parliament in Hanover voted for it after most nurses voted for the dissolution. Almost 92 percent of the members of the nursing professions chamber in Schleswig-Holstein were in favor of an end to their professional representation in 2021.

“We were able to learn from the mistakes of other federal states,” said Berlin’s CDU health politician Gräff. In Berlin, the chamber wants to focus in particular on the further development of training. The draft law will also regulate whether certified specialists or nursing assistants who have been trained for one year should belong to the chamber.

In the trade unions, many view a chamber critically. A chamber cannot fight for collective agreements. But it stands for additional bureaucracy, so the objection, of which there is already enough in the healthcare sector. Many employers also reject a nursing chamber. The traditional professional association of the nursing professions DBfK advocates a chamber.

In order to set up a nursing chamber, the legislature would have to explain why existing offices and associations are not sufficient for the functioning of the guild. After that, a chamber law can be voted on. It is not foreseeable whether the CDU draft would find a majority in the House of Representatives.

One supports professionalization processes in nursing, if necessary also through a chamber, said the nursing expert of the Greens, Aferdita Suka. The red-green-red coalition intends to start a “dialogue process” itself. The SPD MP Lars Düsterhöft said that if the nurses wanted it, he would be open to a chamber: he would personally support initiatives by the “coalition partners”. However, it is “difficult to assess” how his parliamentary group stands overall on the Chamber question, said Düsterhöft.

So far, the SPD has agreed with the unions in rejecting a chamber. It’s the same on the left. “We consider a nursing chamber to be the wrong instrument, even after the experiences in other federal states, but we urgently need to strengthen self-government care,” said left-wing health expert Tobias Schulze.

Self-government means the “joint federal committee” made up of doctors, the hospital company and insurance companies, which negotiates the guidelines for care in Germany. The liberals, in turn, expected “specific proposals” from the chamber’s supporters, said FDP care expert Tobias Bauschke, which will be examined. He himself finds the desire for a chamber understandable.