Nurse assoc.: Staff shortage means longer hospital stays for kids

Early Red Cross poster by David Henry SouterEarly Red Cross poster by David Henry Souter

A shortage of specialist community nurses is leading to kids having to stay longer in hospital than medically necessary. This extra time in hospital because no home care is available can easily run up to 12 weeks, according to nurses organization V&VN.

"A child wants nothing more than to go home, to be in a safe, familiar environment. A stay in hospital often provides additional anxiety and stress." Sonja Kersten, director of V&VN, said to Dutch newspaper AD.

According to the organization, there is currently a shortage of 600 community pediatric nurses and another 150 in hospitals. "This shortage will only increase in the coming years", according to Kersten.

The organization is appealing to State Secretary Martin van Rijn of Public Health for more training places for pediatric nurses. They also recommend extending the training program by three months so that pediatric nursing students are immediately trained for community nursing too.

The Dutch association of hospitals NVZ haven't noticed that kids structurally spend longer in hospital than necessary. But they do know that a major change in the industry - such as the decentralization of healthcare last year - can lead to a staff shortage. "That is inconvenient. People stress about it and you do not want that", a spokesperson said to the newspaper. "The NVZ wants to help with training these nurses."