More than 300 hospitals in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia can make a large-scale contribution to eliminating long waiting lists in the Netherlands. So said Alex Friedrich, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Academic Hospital in Münster – where Dutch patients have been treated before.
The presentation comes shortly after the countless dismal numbers in the monthly journal Access to Care from Monitor, the Dutch healthcare authority. Queues are not decreasing. In April, 100,000 to 120,000 patients had been waiting for surgery for months. That hasn’t changed since then.
According to Groningen professor of health economics Jochen Merau, Dutch healthcare no longer fulfills its statutory duty of care.
Waiting time in Germany is a few weeks
No quick fix is in sight from the healthcare sector. According to NZa, absenteeism due to illness among health care workers remains very high. This is in addition to the shortage of structural staff.
At the beginning of this year, Ad Melkert, president of the Dutch Association of Hospitals, told the trade magazine Skipr that compensatory care would not be phased out this year. “A big part won’t happen until next year. Then I’ll figure out my preferred scenario: There won’t be a new big wave of pollution after Omicron.”
Friedrich, who has worked for years as a professor and medical microbiologist in the Netherlands, sees opportunities to help. According to him, this is possible in terms of the ability to care. North Rhine-Westphalia, which borders the Netherlands, has a population equal to that of the Netherlands, but there are more hospitals.
“Where in the Netherlands there are about 90 hospitals, we have 330. With us also, patients now have to wait because of the epidemic. But this is only a few weeks to months or more in the Netherlands. If the Dutch are also coupled in a large-scale, patients may have to The Germans have to wait three to four weeks, which is acceptable in many cases.”
He argues that the Dutch government should conclude a multi-year agreement with North Rhine-Westphalia to jointly deal with large-scale Dutch waiting lists.
“Such an agreement is necessary if such a master plan is to succeed. After all, in principle, our beds are already full of our patients. But if German hospitals expect a large number of Dutch patients on an annual basis, we will include them in our annual plan. Because After that it is useful to make room.”
However, the Ministry of Health (VWS) is not too enthusiastic.
“It’s not that simple,” says VWS spokesperson Joeke Kootstra. “If you had surgery in Germany, you would still have to receive aftercare in the Netherlands. It’s not said to be available.” “I would also note that health insurance companies in the border region already have patients in our neighboring countries assisted through care mediation.”
Friedrich stresses that Dutch health insurance companies already contract out cross-border health care. “But it is happening on a small scale because our beds are already full and there are only occasional places. That does not reduce the very long waiting times. If our governments put in place a cross-border healthcare policy, German hospitals know that many Dutch patients are guaranteed to come in, then you can step in Big strides.”
According to Kostra, treatment abroad is not a suitable option for a large portion of patients. That is why she does not see the large-scale plan as a good solution. “Consider, for example, the aftercare that patients need. There must be capacity in the Netherlands for this, or the patient must travel abroad for all follow-up appointments. There are also many patients who do not want to be helped abroad. , for example because of a long-term treatment relationship with a doctor in the Netherlands.”
The Patients Union announces that it shares the VWS comment. At the same time, it would not hurt to research this plan. There will undoubtedly be patients who will want to have the option of treatment elsewhere if the waiting lists do not go away.
“Private doctor still involved’
“It is also not meant to pass the Dutch doctors,” says Friedrich. “A Dutch-German care pathway must be established in which the patient is directed by his or her own physician.”
It is precisely because of the ministry’s comments that it is important, according to Friedrich, that the Netherlands and North Rhine-Westphalia work towards a broad cross-border sponsorship agreement. Solutions to issues such as aftercare can be negotiated through such an agreement, according to Friedrich.
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