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Health workforce response to Covid-19: What pandemic prepardness planning and action at federal and state levels in Germany?

Köppen J, Hartl K, Maier CB
International Journal Health Planning and Management
DOI: 10.1002/hpm.3146



The Covid‐19 pandemic has required countries to prepare their health workforce for a rapid increase of patients. This research aims to analyse the planning and health workforce policies in Germany, a country with a largely decentralised workforce governance mechanism.


Systematic search between 18 and 31 May 2020 at federal and 16 states on health workforce action and planning (websites of ministries of health, public health authorities), including pandemic preparedness plans and policies. The search followed World Health Organisation (WHO) Europe's health workforce guidance on Covid‐19. Content analysis was performed, informed by the themes of WHO.


The pandemic preparedness plans consisted of no or limited information on how to expand and prepare the health workforce during pandemics. The 16 states varied considerably regarding implementing strategies to expand health workforce capacities. Only one state adopted a policy on task‐shifting despite a federal law on task‐shifting during pandemics.


Planning on the health workforce, its capacity and skill‐mix during pandemics was limited in the pandemic response plans. Actions during the peak of the pandemic varied considerably across states, were implemented ad hoc and with limited planning. Future action should focus on integrated planning and evaluation of workforce policies.

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