AIn view of the tough struggle for a new contract for the future for the privatized university hospital in Giessen and Marburg, the mayor of Marburg, Thomas Spies (SPD), has noticed considerable concern among the population about security of supply. The majority shareholder Rhön-Klinikum AG and the state of Hesse signed a basic agreement at the beginning of the year, but the contract has not yet been signed. It must be available by the end of the year. “It’s a big gamble,” says Spies, adding: “I’m not sure that the country’s hand is better.”
He thinks this is an alarming situation. Because in the end what counts for the population is being treated and cared for well in the clinic. This also had to do with the protests from the workforce. Employees demand a commitment to the continued security of their jobs and the promise that Rhön will not split off any parts of the company. Both are stipulated in the contract for the future, which expires at the end of the year. There is a great deal of uncertainty as to what will come out of the negotiations. “There are two of you playing, but you can’t both win,” Spies points out. Rhön holds 95 percent of the larger of the two Hessian university clinics, Hessen the rest.
Hessen wants to give 500 million euros for UKGM
Hesse privatized the clinic, known as UKGM for short, in February 2006 – an unprecedented process in Germany. At the time, an investment backlog had accumulated. Money in the hundreds of millions was missing. Despite investments in buildings and medical technology, money is once again lacking. And again there is talk of a three-digit million amount. That is why the state wants to invest almost 500 million euros in the clinic over ten years, as the state and Rhön-Klinikum AG announced in January.
But they fell out over the details. Among other things, Rhön refers to inflation. As a result, the euro is worth less today than it was then. In addition, it is apparently disputed how the state funds should be offset against the sales price in the event of a sale of the clinic.
He still thinks the privatization of the university hospital in Giessen and Marburg is wrong – Spies makes no secret of that. However, he does show understanding for the majority shareholder, who has not yet been able to come to an agreement with the state of Hesse. “I can’t blame the company for behaving the way it does,” said Spies. If a state sells a public utility to a listed company, then the company acts like a corporation. Rhön stick to the rules of the game. Different rules of the game are necessary for such facilities so that the state can control them itself.
With regard to the sharp increase in tissue tax revenue in Marburg, which is also and precisely due to the profits of the vaccine manufacturer Biontech, which is represented at the site, Spies referred to the around 300 million euros in levies that the city pays to the state. This sum might not be enough for the state to buy back the hospital. But he is confident that he can persuade the people of Marburg to take part if the state initiates a buyback. Spies was already a prominent critic of privatization when he was a member of the state parliament.