Yesterday, the first Ruhr Area Care Conference took place in Gelsenkirchen under the slogan "Care Triage Summit".The conference was organized by public bodies such as the AWO, Diakonie, various foundations and private companies such as "Humanitas" from Essen as well as the interest group for carers in NRW. Neither part of the organizing committee nor represented in the conference's supporting programme were the North Rhine-Westphalia Chamber of Care Professionals, which represents all carers, or the trade union Verdi, which represents care workers in their labour struggles.

The main focus of the conference and the accompanying program was the slogan around care triage and the danger that patients will be increasingly neglected or completely rejected in the future. However, the term triage has a different meaning in nursing than the definition we have come to know during the corona years. Care triage means that lighter cases are more likely to be accepted with the argument that more people will be properly cared for and cases with higher degrees of care that require more frequent involvement of specialists are rejected or terminated due to economic savings and labor shortages. Under this overarching theme, various presentations were then given at the conference by the managing directors of various companies on topics such as queues in outpatient care, the restriction of services and the lack of specialist care. There was also a round table discussion in which the SPD spokesperson for health policy in NRW took part.

The outcome of the conference: there will be a nationwide shortage of around 130,000 nurses by 2030, which means that 1.1 million people will not get the nursing care they need.

But as justified as the issue of care triage and labor shortages is for the development of a humane healthcare system, this conference of companies will not solve any of the problems.

For example, because companies in the care sector are largely responsible themselves for the fact that workers are running away in masses or don't even want to start working for them. A high level of overtime, too few staff and too much stress, and in some cases ridiculous wages compared to the work performance are just a few of the reasons why fewer and fewer people are going into the care sector. And the care companies, which are also just normal capitalist, profit-oriented companies, play a large part in this, in addition to the crisis policy of the bourgeois state. On top of this, care workers are being bullied when they justifiably go on strike against these conditions, as the last few years have shown. Then the labor buyers often emphasize that nursing is not a profession, but a "vocation" and that any serious struggle for political and economic improvements would be detrimental to patient care.This ploy is also familiar from many other professions in the health and social sector. This is the question of the daily demands of nursing workers and these can only be fought for if care workers unite on a proletarian class basis in the health sector and fight resolutely for their demands and rights.

Another problem that we should remind ourselves of right now, just before International Working Women's Day on March 8, is that the absolute majority of all care workers, 82 percent, are women. As in so many health and social sectors that function as paid reproductive work, the proportion of women is disproportionately high. By way of comparison, in the population as a whole, women make up 46 percent of employees subject to social insurance contributions. Therefore, the need for a class-conscious women's movement that fights for its own interests as workers against the particular patriarchal exploitation in the care sector and campaigns for healthcare in the interests of the working class and the people is particularly evident in the care sector.

The basic problem, however, is that care, just like every other area of society, functions according to the principles of capitalist profit logic. This means that the care of elderly relatives, people with disabilities and sick people is not the purpose of care under imperialism, but to make as much money as possible. However, since the majority of society consists of the working class and the people and always has the financial means to afford appropriate, expensive care, care is dependent on state aid. However, like so much else in the health and social sector, this state aid is currently being massively cut. For example, the federal government's subsidy for long-term care insurance has been completely cut for the 2024 federal budget, which means a subsidy gap of 1 billion euros. A healthcare system that really focuses on our needs is not possible under imperialism, because the system is designed to make money out of our medical needs and, in times of crisis, increasingly fails to provide adequate healthcare. So if we want care that does not focus on profit but on the health of the working class and the people, we and above all the workers in care must fight for socialism in which care facilities are in the hands of the people and not in the hands of companies.