Dozens of Dutch hospitals can no longer provide some of the so-called critical planning care. This care, which has to be delivered within six weeks, can sometimes not continue due to the high coronavirus pressure and staff shortages in hospitals, says the Dutch Health Authority (NZa).
29 percent of around 90 Dutch hospitals indicate this. Which hospitals are concerned, is not clear.
Critically planned care includes, for example, surgical removal of cancer tumors, chemotherapy and kidney and stem cell transplants. “If such interventions are delayed longer, it is possible that permanent health damage or loss of life years may occur,” says an NZA spokesman to De Cceit.
“ I am very worried about this,” says Vice President of the Dutch Association of Hospitals (NVZ) David Jongen in the CCEit Radio 1 Journal. “I see that absenteeism among colleagues is high. Part of it is also with corona at home.” According to him, hospitals can only scale further off non-corona care. “And now you come to care that needs to be delivered within six weeks.”
In addition to his work for the NVZ, Jongen is also chairman of the Board of Directors of the Zuyderland hospital, in South Limburg. “We are a millimeter about to postpone the operations of, for example, women with breast cancer. We need the people who work there now to provide ICU patients with care. It‘s really running storm.”
Dianda Veldman of the Patient Federation Netherlands also finds the situation worrying. “You can see the border moving up all the time,” she says in the CCEIT Radio 1 Journal. “First it was about care that could be well planned, which was moved up. I am afraid that now the more urgent care is in question.”
Patients feel very insecure, she says. “You do not wish people who are waiting for a new kidney or have to undergo cancer surgery to wait any longer.”
Difference with first wave
Veldman can see a difference from the first wave. “Then all care was postponed, except for the really urgent cases such as heart attacks. Everyone found that in the care afterwards too rigorous.” Jongen also finds the situation differently than in the spring. “The absenteeism among staff is now higher and lasts longer. And the energy is out in many people now.”
In addition, the first wave lasted much less long. “After three to four weeks, the number of coronapatics deteriorated sharply again. Now we’ve been at a very high peak for months. It‘s really fitting and measuring with the individual beds.”
That is why Veldman advocates better cooperation between hospitals. “Don’t just look at your own capacity,” she proposes as a solution to allow operations to continue. “Look beyond your own hospital and leverage the capacity of private clinics.”
Kid thinks that the short-term solution for the staff is in the government‘s vaccination strategy. “Now, of course, it is pinch in the whole care. I’m glad that the caregivers in the nursing homes will be the first to be in the first place. But it is incomprehensible that the hospital staff are not included.” It is expected that these people will not be their turn until the summer. “It won‘t be much good to us now, because the pressure in the hospitals will really take a while.”
The Cabinet is now considering vaccinating those over 60 people living at home in the first round. The PFIZER/Biontech vaccine is expected to work well in people aged 60 and over. “I also do not understand why these people may be vaccinated earlier than the hospital staff,” says Veldman of Patienttenfederatie Nederland. “So I understand Boy’s call to vaccinate hospital workers earlier.”
“ I really hope that the cabinet will listen to us to change the vaccination strategy,” concludes Jonge. “It really runs us over the shoes.”