Disability care at risk due to lack of testing capacity’

The Vereniging Gehandicaptenzorg Nederland (VGN) is concerned about the shortage of testing capacity for care workers. As a result, care for the disabled is under heavy pressure, says chairman Boris van der Ham. According to him, it often takes more than five days before employees get their results back.

“And while the cold season has yet to begin,” he says. “Many care organizations are only just managing to complete the occupation with art and aerial work.”

Emergency letter

The VGN has sent an emergency letter to Minister De Jonge of Public Health urging measures to be taken. According to Van der Ham, institutions would otherwise ultimately have to weigh up the issue: deploy people with mild complaints or fail to provide necessary care. “Neither of the two options is without risk and damage”

Some institutions would already have their hands in their hair. People who have been tested with mild symptoms sometimes have to wait days for the results. “They can’t be in the labour process for days.”

This is the case at care institution ‘s Heeren Loo, which employs some 15,000 permanent staff. For some regions, waiting times have increased considerably, reports spokesperson Willeke van Uden.

Waiting for the test and the results sometimes take a calendar week, Van Uden sees. This is happening in Groningen, North Holland, Flevoland and the surroundings of Tiel, for example. This saves “considerable care capacity” and extra costs.

One hundred employees

At ‘s Heeren Loo, there are already more than a hundred employees per month “each of whom is not available for a calendar week and has to be replaced”. “We also hear about excesses, where a colleague from Den Helder is advised to get tested in Enschede”, writes Van Uden.

According to UN president Van der Ham, the solution lies in more available tests for healthcare workers and a quicker result. At ‘s Heeren Loo we are investigating whether employees can be tested within the institutions. “So that we know the results within a few hours.”

De Jonge said on Friday to see if it’s possible to give priority to health personnel. He will discuss this with the GGD’s. They still have a shortage of material and can barely cope with the demand for testing at the moment.