Many hospitals in NL only to perform emergency surgeries this summer
According to a survey of 14 hospitals in the Netherlands by the newspaper AD, the majority will be forced to shut their operating theatres this summer due to staffing shortages and holiday leave.
Surgeries pushed until after summer
Planned procedures, which are not urgent, such as those in orthopaedics, gynaecology or plastic surgery, will be postponed until after the summer holiday. This is partly due to staff wishing to take leave during the school holidays, and partly due to the staff shortages that hospitals are struggling with.
The fact that there is a shortage in the health sector is not new news; however, the situation is becoming more and more acute. In Maasstad Hospital in Rotterdam, operating theatre capacity is reduced by 30 percent each year to allow staff to take leave. However, this year an extra five percent of operating theatres will also be shut due to staff shortages.
Plenty of other hospitals have also scaled back operations for this summer. In fact, at Dijklander Hospital in Hoorn, a fifth of operations have been scaled back; at ZorgSaam in Terneuzen, the figure is as high as a quarter, and at Bernhoven hospital in Uden, a full 50 percent of planned operations have been postponed. Máxima Medical Centre in Veldhoven and Eindhoven has even merged some nursing wards to compensate for staff shortages and make the work pressure doable.
Staff shortages and longer waiting lists
According to the Dutch Hospitals Association (NVZ), the summer “squeeze” has not led to any dangerous situations yet. Of course, emergency operations are still taking place. Hospitals are, however, worried that the departments, which already have long waiting lists, will see them get even longer. For example, departments like stomach- intestine- liver, allergology and ophthalmology.
It’s no wonder that hospitals are suffering from shortages when looking at the following figures. According to a recent analysis of 78 hospitals by healthcare purchaser Intrakoop, the number of open vacancies has more than doubled in five year’s time, now at more than 8.000! Additionally, the number of “difficult to fill” vacancies, for which it took three months or longer to find a candidate, increased last year by 39 percent. It is especially difficult to find specialist nurses, for example, operating theatre assistants.
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