German Defense Minister Plans to Close Army Hospitals | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 15.04.2004
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German Defense Minister Plans to Close Army Hospitals

German Defense Minister Peter Struck is planning to close down several army hospitals in Germany as part of a cost-cutting plan. "The Bundeswehr is going to become smaller overall, so, naturally, one has to consider closing individual hospitals, " a spokesman for the minister said on Thursday. However, it remains unclear how many hospitals will get the axe. A final decision is expected in autumn of this year. According to the Defense Ministry, eight army hospitals in the country maintain 2,300 beds, a third of which are used by civil patients. But Struck's spokesman assuaged fears that the cuts would affect the civil population. The nearly 800 beds devoted to civilian use -- compared to a total of 550,000 hospital beds in Germany -- is a "tiny amount," he said and added, "Quantity wise, it won't affect the civilian population in times of catastrophe."