A new state office is to become the central health authority. In this way, Hessen wants to fight pandemics faster and more specifically in the future.
Hesse will have its own state office for health in the future. Health Minister Kai Klose (Greens) announced this at a press conference on Wednesday.
The tasks of the new office should be infection protection, health protection and environmental medicine. Health reports or a working group on crisis situations could be created.
“Interface between science and practice”
Until now, in addition to the Ministry of Health, the regional councils, the Hessian State Investigation and Investigation Office in the Health System (HLPUG) and the municipalities with their health services were responsible for infection protection and health.
“The crisis has made us realize that borders between authorities should play a lesser role,” Klose said. In Bavaria, for example, there is already such an office.
With this step, the State wants to facilitate communication, deploy staff more efficiently and pool knowledge. Klose announced that he would represent an “interface between science and practice”.
200 to 300 employees
The office should be organized in a decentralized way so that most employees can stay at their place of work. Transfers are not planned. 200-300 employees of other health authorities are expected to stay at their old sites and move to the office digitally.
The municipal health authorities had already expressed the wish for a central office before the pandemic. This has been further intensified by the corona pandemic. “We will make health protection in Hesse even stronger and more flexible beyond the pandemic,” said Klose.
The office is expected to start in 2023
The exact distribution of tasks must now be defined in a law and a regulation which must be adopted later this year. The new State Office for Health could then start working in early 2023.
An endowed chair for public health at the Frankfurt University Clinic is also planned.
The federal government will bear the planned costs for the construction – according to Klose 19 million euros for personnel plus the creation of digital structures.
The left calls for public funding for staff
The left-wing faction in the state parliament welcomes the move by a state health department, but at the same time criticizes the late introduction. In December, the CDU-Green government rejected a left-wing amendment to the Public Health Service Act. This included, among other things, the proposal for a state health office.
“Either the Minister of Social Affairs and the black-green governing coalition have had an experience of spontaneous awakening over the past five weeks – or Minister Klose has deliberately withheld his plan for a state health department so that he can take full advantage of its public relations effect today,” the SPD parliamentary group told the state parliament.
But the planned regrouping of staff is not enough, according to the left. The country must take its own means to provide qualified personnel. “Now it will not be enough to bring together all the people who are somehow responsible for protecting health at the state level.”
FDP: Insufficiently equipped health authorities
FDP MP Yanki Pürsün explained that the health authorities in Hesse were already insufficiently equipped before Corona. The announced creation of the new state health office is the minister’s first insight that the state government has not done enough to deal with the pandemic.
The CDU parliamentary group, meanwhile, assumes that the new state authority will make the public health service fit for future difficult tasks, as it explained. According to a statement, the Greens faction believes that the state office can pool resources and use them faster and more accurately. The measures could also focus more than before on the scientific evaluation of health data.
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