Cantonal council harshly criticizes the University Hospital Zurich – and praises the Cantonal Hospital Winterthur
Red numbers and direct order placement at the University Hospital Zurich – everything at the Canton Hospital Winterthur: The Cantonal Council took a close look at the performance of the two cantonal hospitals in the 2020 corona year.
Usually the approval of annual reports in the cantonal council is pure routine. But the performance of the University Hospital Zurich (USZ) in the 2020 corona year caused a heated debate on Monday. There was harsh criticism of the USZ – and a lot of praise for the Kantonsspital Winterthur (KSW).
While the USZ slipped into the red with a minus of 48 million francs, the KSW managed to break even despite the pandemic. The Kantonsspital Winterthur even makes a small profit of 1.7 million francs. Both hospitals suffered from the pandemic, but they temporarily postponed operations, which led to losses.
Damage to reputation after dubious incidents
But at the USZ there was another factor: dubious incidents in several clinics caused negative headlines and critical internal and external investigation reports. “That this reputational damage led to financial losses cannot be ruled out”, stated Claudia Frei-Wyssen (GLP, Uster) as president of the cantonal supervisory commission on education and health (ABG). The USZ management did not mark this damage. Arianne Moser-Schäfer (FDP, Bonstetten) therefore demanded more self-criticism from the USZ leadership. And Health Director Natalie Rickli (SVP) added towards the end of the debate:
“The introduction of contemporary management structures will remain a long-term task.”
Previously, several members of the cantonal council had put their finger on another sore point.
USZ often awarded new construction contracts by hand
It is about the new construction of Campus Mitte 1, a USZ building in the Uniquartier according to plans by the star architects Christ & Gantenbein. The ABG noted that there was a noticeably high number of private contracts.
They are based on clarifications from the cantonal financial control. In this context, Hans-Peter Amrein (SVP, Küsnacht) even spoke of the “grossest violations of applicable law” and demanded that a special commission of the Cantonal Council take care of the matter. ABG President Frei-Wyssen assured him: “We are on the topic.” Amrein replied: “But you are not doing enough!”
What the hospital staff received besides applause
The debate on the KSW annual report sounded completely different. Government councilor Rickli attested that the Winterthur Cantonal Hospital had “an above-average performance”. René Truninger (SVP, Illnau-Effretikon) emphasized: “Despite Corona, KSW was one of the few hospitals not to apply for additional subsidies.” In addition, all employees paid a bonus of 1,000 francs per full-time position for their great commitment in connection with Corona. Nathalie Aeschbacher (GLP, Zurich) praised the “modern management” of the KSW.
Thanks were given in the Cantonal Council for the employees of all hospitals. Regarding the approximately 8,500 employees of the USZ, Melanie Berner (AL, Zurich) said: “What you needed in this pandemic year is almost superhuman.” In the same breath, she stated that there was a great need for action in the USZ in terms of leadership and corporate culture.
After all, the USZ gave the hospital staff a day off for their birthday as a thank you for their work in the pandemic. But: “Paying for changing time as working time would be a lasting sign of appreciation.” Despite criticism, the Cantonal Council approved the hospitals’ annual reports almost unanimously.
“Lean” owner strategy approved
There was also criticism when it came to the canton’s ownership strategy for the USZ: “The strategy is far too vague. As the owner, the canton doesn’t seem to care where the USZ is heading, ”said Esther Straub (SP, Zurich). Bettina Balmer (FDP, Zurich) said the strategies for digitization and real estate management were “very lean”. Lorenz Schmid (middle, Meilen) warned of the “time bomb” of underfunding of the USZ in view of unattainable financial goals. Nevertheless, the Cantonal Council approves the strategy. The yes votes of SVP, FDP, EPP and GLP are enough for a majority.