The discouragement of mouth caps due to scarcity ‘is gross scandal’

Opposition parties and senior citizens organisations are furious at the fact that the RIVM Elderly Care Oral Caps Directive was partly based on scarcity. Nieuwsuur revealed today that an important piece of advice from that directive has been tacitly amended and that employees now have to wear mouth masks in case of short contact.

During the corona crisis, the rule was that staff in care without mouth masks worked in confirmed corona cases if it was “short-term contact”. This was justified, according to the directive. It was always maintained that these guidelines were not drawn up out of scarcity, but on the basis of medical advice.

However, now that the directive has been amended, it appears that scarcity did play a role. The RIVM admits that the advice was based on the “very low risk” of becoming infected in case of volatile contact, “combined with the scarcity” of mouth masks. This falls down the wrong throat of politicians and senior citizens organisations.

CNV Zorg & Welzijn, the trade union for care workers, calls the amendment of the directive a gross scandal. “This news seriously undermines the confidence of care personnel in the RIVM”, says chairman Anneke Westerlaken.

The trade union states that this cannot remain without consequences. Westerlaken wants to know from the minister whether any more adjustments have been made. “It is a fact that there has been haggling over the health of health personnel, their families and clients

The senior citizens organisation KBO-PCOB is also outraged, according to the words of director Manon Vanderkaa. “Scandalous! Now carers, elderly people, informal carers and loved ones have been put on the wrong foot. While there was so much fear among senior citizens. That fear now appears to be justified

“We did not put pressure on the RIVM, said Prime Minister Mark Rutte after questions from journalists. He wants to know from the RIVM whether the shortage of mouth caps played a role in the advice. “They have to give scientific advice. If there are shortages, its up to the politicians to weigh them up”

Cabinet not fair

Members of Parliament are angry. “It is to be furious,” says group chairman Lilian Marijnissen of the SP. “So often we asked the cabinet whether the directive for the protection of our carers was based on scarcity. The Cabinet is not fair and has a major problem

Now come out: this mistake was, of course, based on a shortage of materials, says Marijnissen, who wants to discuss the matter with the Cabinet on Tuesday. “How can health care providers still rely on the directives? They have simply been abandoned

Very serious

The Dutch Labour Party leader, Lodewijk Asscher, calls the issue very serious. Green-left leader Jesse Klaver considers it “scandalous” and wants to know what role the Cabinet played in this. “So care workers and patients have deliberately been endangered? Lying about safety risks is unacceptable”

PVV leader Geert Wilders wants to know whether “employees in geriatric care have been fooled” and whether the Lower House “has been lied to”. According to Wilders it is “code red for the minister if this is true”.

The coalition is also asking for an explanation. Vera Bergkamp (D66), Hayke Veldman (VVD) and Carla Dik-Faber (CU) want an explanation from Minister Hugo de Jonge. “The House of Representatives has often asked a question about this. And now this. Curious about the reaction, tweets Bergkamp.

A spokesman of the Ministry of Public Health already responded to questions from Nieuwsuur by e-mail. The RIVM acknowledges in a reaction to our report that “it would have been better” if it had reported “explicitly” that the passage about short contact had been removed from the mouthpiece directive.

In July, Nieuwsuur already revealed that some important RIVM coronavirus guidelines have a meagre scientific basis:

Saturday in Nieuwsuur on NPO 2 and on all the facts and details in a comprehensive reconstruction about the change of this guideline.