Tuesday, 23 August 2016 - 10:17
Most doctor call lines hard to reach: study
Almost all non-emergency call lines for doctors in the Netherlands are had to get hold of, according to a study by consumers organization Consumentenbond. The organization tested the waiting times for non emergency calls at 40 doctors, and 38 of them could not take the call within the legal standard of 2 minutes, NU.nl reports. This refers specifically to a post you call when you have a medical situation, but which is not an emergency. You describe your symptoms to a doctor, who will tell you whether it is necessary to come in immediately or whether you can wait for the next working day. The Consumentenbond describes the waiting times for some call lines as "dauntingly long". In one case the waiting time was even 26 minutes. While the norm is that 75 percent of the calls will be answered in two minutes, the rest in 10 minutes. Only Doktersdienst Grningen and Dienstenstructuur Zuidwest Drenthe managed to keep their waiting times under 2 minutes. According to the doctors, the increase in waiting times can be attributed to the increasing demand for healthcare, especially outside office hours. The number of phone calls, consultations and visits continues to increase, as does the "urgency" of the calls. The doctors attribute the problems mainly to the aging population in the Netherlands. In addition to that, vulnerable patient groups like older people and people with mental health problems live at home for longer, which means that they more often have to rely on doctor call centers. The GP's want to discuss these figures with other involved organizations - like patient organizations, health insurers, the government and doctors' unions - as quickly as possible.