Waiting lists at hospitals and clinics in the Netherlands once again growing
Waiting lists at hospitals and specialists in the Netherlands have grown once again. According to figures from research institute Mediquest, in 2019 patients wanting to see a gastroenterologist or ophthalmologist had to wait on average seven weeks for their first appointment - two weeks longer than in 2015.
Waiting too long to see a doctor
It’s not just ophthalmology that carries a long waiting time; patients have to wait several weeks to see other specialists too. Often, the maximum acceptable waiting time is exceeded in these cases. The maximum acceptable waiting time for a large part of healthcare is four weeks. To see a rheumatologist, patients waited on average 6,7 weeks and over five weeks for dental surgery.
Dianda Veldman, director of the Patients’ Federation, is shocked by these figures. According to her, in the last few years not enough doctors have been trained. There are many reasons for the ever-growing waiting lists, but an important one is the staff shortage in healthcare. That needs to change.
The Dutch Hospitals’ Association (NVZ) is aware of the problem, however, whilst agreements have been made to tackle waiting times, demand for care is increasing and the staff shortage is acute. Figures from CBS regarding Q3 of 2019 put the number of vacancies in the healthcare sector at more than 39.000.
No quick fix
There is simply no quick fix for the shortages in the healthcare sector. The profession needs to be made more attractive to encourage people to become healthcare specialists. However, it takes years and years to become a specialist. Wim Groot, a health economist, therefore suggests recruiting from abroad to ameliorate the situation.