Massive shortage in paramedics could cause "irresponsible situations" on King's Day: Union

Paramedics and a police officer at the scene of an incident (Stock photo: Politie)Paramedics and a police officer at the scene of an incident (Stock photo: Politie)

Union FNV Care and Welfare warns of a massive shortage in paramedics and ambulance staff in the near future. In the short term, the union is especially concerned about safety on King's Day. "Given the number of people on the move that day, it can lead to irresponsible situations", Fred Seifert of FNV said to broadcaster NOS.

The union sent a letter about the situation to Minister Edith Schippers of Public Health and the Healthcare Inspectorate, but so far got no response. Which is why FNV decided to sound the alarm in the media, Seifert said.

FNV based its concerns on lists from employment agencies, which sow that there is a great need for temporary ambulance workers in the coming period. According to the union, the problems are particularly big with private ambulance services and in several major cities. According to the union, Amsterdam will have a shortage of 7 ambulances on King's day. Rotterdam will have five too few and Utrecht four. This will increase the ambulances' arrival time, Seifert said. "We always say that every second counts. If an ambulance arrives one, two or three minutes later, it may have cosnequences."

The union attributes the shortage in paramedics and ambulance staff partly to uncertainty at ambulance institutions. The current ambulance licenses were issued five years ago and will expire shortly. "The Minister intends to extend those permits by two years, but their is still great uncertainty. The institutions are wondering if they can invest, and you see that in the high number of temporary workers." Seifert said. Added to that, the demand for ambulances increased significantly over past years due to the aging population and increasing tourism, according to Seifert.