Since the demand for healthcare transport has increased again, the sector has been struggling with hundreds of vacancies that are difficult to fill. The shortage is increasing to such an extent that companies are increasingly stating that they can no longer run rides on time, or that rides are even in danger of being canceled altogether. This includes trips to hospitals, healthcare institutions and educational institutions.
It is not only about a shortage of drivers, but also support staff such as dispatchers, supervisors and mechanics. At the peak of the corona crisis, transport volumes in, among other things, social assistance transport and in the Regiotaxi were sharply reduced. In daytime transport and seated patient transport, the volumes were many tens of percent lower than before the crisis.
As a result, despite the support measures, healthcare transport companies suffered considerable financial blows, despite the generic support measures and the fact that various clients financial assistance by compensating part of the canceled rides. Due to the lower transport volumes, many personnel also left. On the one hand, because the support measures were not always sufficient to keep all the staff, including the flexible shell, in service. On the other hand, because staff stopped working or could find work elsewhere.
Increasing number of reports of illness due to corona This staff is in in connection with the increased demand now urgently needed again. Due to the increase in corona infections, the number of reports of illness among staff is also increasing. This is a difficult problem for carriers to solve, which could mean that not everyone can be transported in the future. Customers already sometimes have to wait longer than agreed for the taxi that, for example, takes them to the day care center or to the hospital.
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KNV chairman Bertho Eckhardt is deeply concerned about the magnitude of this problem. “Nationally, we see hundreds of vacancies that are difficult to fill. This means that extra staff is already being called upon within companies, but that is not always sufficient for the large peak of transport in the morning and the afternoon. We see that entrepreneurs are making adjustments in consultation with clients to prevent rides from being canceled.”
Passengers experience the real problem According to him, it requires a lot of effort and creativity from the companies to be able to serve customers as well as possible. “We notice that entrepreneurs are really up for grabs. Fortunately, most clients understand the situation. This is a good business.” The passengers in the taxis, on the other hand, experience the real problem, he says. They can no longer always be transported on time or they are no longer transported by their regular driver. “This is a major problem for a vulnerable target group.”
KNV, together with the entrepreneurs, is looking for solutions in various ways. However, according to the industry association, the staff shortage will not be solved overnight, as it also occurs in other sectors such as healthcare and the catering industry. We therefore ask for understanding for the situation.
“It is not ill-will that the companies cannot always meet the transport demand when customers want it”, emphasizes Eckhardt. “Healthcare transporters are part of the healthcare chain and constantly monitor the interests of the customer. However, we have now found ourselves in a situation where we sometimes can no longer fulfill the customer’s wishes. Entrepreneurs are really upset about that.”
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