Ambulances increasingly redirected to different hospitals in the Netherlands
In 2018, the emergency departments at hospitals in North-Holland and Flevoland sent ambulances to other hospitals far more frequently because it was too busy at their hospitals. According to research by NRC, in 2018 hospitals temporarily stopped accepting new patients, a so-called "patient stop", twice as often as they did three years ago.
Refusing new emergency patients
Last year in the provinces North-Holland and Flevoland, hospitals implemented 5.600 temporary patient stops - that’s an average of 15 per day! It must be noted, however, that patients in life-threatening danger are never turned away.
Patient stops are especially prevalent in the urban conglomeration area a.k.a. Randstad, although hospitals in Groningen and Drenthe are also being forced to redirect ambulances to other hospitals more often. In two provinces, namely Twente and Zeeland, patients are never turned away, even if it is very busy at the emergency department. This is due to the fact that the next closest hospital is simply too far away.
The redirection of ambulances to other hospitals when a particular emergency department is too busy is a problem that has existed for years. And whilst the Minister of Health Bruno Bruins has given priority to tackling the problem, as his predecessor did, the number of registered patient stops continues to increase.
Patient stops are put in place by hospitals to prevent it from becoming so busy that the quality of care suffers. The increasing number of stops is the result of understaffing and the ageing population.