Fears of a possible “Pflexit” in Germany start to grow! Disaster scenario in 2022?


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Will compulsory vaccination in nursing from March 15th mean Germany will witness a “Pflexit”?

Pflexit: Many companies fear that nurses are now fleeing the mandatory vaccination against Corona. But data from the job portals paint a different picture. And then there are all the fake job ads.


Will the mandatory vaccination from March 15th exacerbate the nursing shortage and create a “Pflexit”?

The nursing staff, who are already rare, are also particularly willing to change jobs. The phenomenon of collective withdrawal from care has also made headlines in recent months as “Pflexit”.

What is Pflexit?

Pflexit refers to the exit of nursing staff from their profession. A distinction is made between the Pflexit for personal reasons and the systemic Pflexit.

The fact that the care situation in Germany is currently in a crisis is nothing new. Neither does the fact that the course for changes must be set now to defuse the nursing shortage. I’ve been hearing that regularly at conventions and conferences for years. At the 2021’s German Nursing Day in Berlin, the topic was emphasized several times by the speakers. But where is German nursing today?

The Personal Pflexit: Meaning, Definition, Explanation

In the case of personal flexit, nurses leave their profession for a variety of personal reasons. These personal reasons are of course also caused by the working conditions, but overall there are extremely complex causes.

The scientific research dealing with the topic identified as framework conditions for a personal Pflexit are:

  • increasing workload
  • high physical and psychological stress at work
  • poor (or inadequate) pay
  • lack of recognition by both employers and the public
  • very strenuous shift divisions
  • too little free time

Especially the stress and the lack of recognition at the same time make nursing staff quickly “quit internally”. They no longer feel connected to their employer and henceforth only work to rule. This poses dangers for the organization and the patients or residents to be cared for in a nursing home. 


System Pflexit: meaning, definition, explanation

This Pflexit is expected by experts. From March 15th, vaccinations will be compulsory for employees in clinics, nursing homes, medical practices or rescue services. Even if many there are double vaccinated or boosted, there is concern in Hamburg’s hospitals and care facilities about further staff shortages.

Nightmare scenarios of what a Pflexit could look like in Germany

In view of the corona pandemic, political commitments without subsequent action and an increasingly precarious situation in clinics and nursing homes, the Pflexit is becoming an increasingly important topic in specialist circles. When is it coming and how will it change the healthcare system?

Scenario 1: Significant upgrading of care after severe upheaval

The Pflexit is coming soon: The nurses act on their announcement and leave the profession in droves. Accelerating forces set in as a result of the phase-out, prompting more and more people to flexit. As a result, there is a complete rethinking in politics and society. The resulting distortions in care show the great importance of the profession. 

An appreciation takes place so that many young people see a perspective for themselves. Salaries are rising significantly, even for assistants. In geriatric care, there is a general collective bargaining agreement. There is a trend towards professionalization so that a broad professional spectrum is emerging between simply trained assistants and academically trained nurses.

Scenario 2: Precarious care situation with consequences for care

The Pflexit is creeping through: Many well-trained nursing staff leave their profession and are only partially cushioned by assistants and immigrants. On the one hand, attempts are being made to quickly provide new assistants and specialists by means of shortened training procedures. On the other hand, increasing efforts are being made to recruit assistants and specialists for care work from other countries. This will probably also affect the informal sector severely. This results in a significant precarization of the nursing profession. 

The incentive for young people to enter this profession is decreasing. Due to the large number of unskilled workers, wages also do not rise appropriately. As a result, the activities are deprofessionalized. The associated upheavals in nursing teams and facilities as a whole lead to further career exits and increase the pressure. Nursing care is increasingly reaching a dead end, with major negative effects on the quality of care. Good care is thus becoming a luxury good and only affordable for a few people with the right budget.


Scenario 3: Postponed one more round

The Pflexit does not come at first: It is true that thousands of well-trained nursing staff are still leaving the profession; but as a result of the corona pandemic, many young people can also be recruited for social professions. With concessions and promises from politicians for imminent improvement, a large Pflexit wave is prevented for the time being. The situation stabilizes somewhat after the pandemic, as some demands for better pay are also being implemented. In the medium term, however, nothing will change with regard to the fundamental problems of working conditions, a lack of professional representation and a social upgrading of the job profile. 

So Pflexit has been put on hold for the time being, but potentially gaining momentum in the coming years. The consequences of the corona pandemic and the associated generally poor conditions on the labor market ensure that many caregivers initially remain in their professions. In the medium term, however, the labor market will recover again, so that other professions will also become attractive for carers and then some baby boomers will also retire in the coming years.

Scenario 4: A new federal government gives new hope

Pflexit can be averted by the new federal government: The new German government decides to rethink the healthcare system and the professional groups that work in it. The collective agreement announced for geriatric care comes into force. Wages and salaries are increased significantly in the entire occupational field. Return programs are being set up to bring former nurses back to work. Taxes and duties will be reduced in this income segment. 


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