Pediatric hospitals in Netherlands overflowing; kids transferred to Belgium

Pediatrician with a child patient
Pediatrician with a child patientRawpixelDepositPhotosDeposit Photos

The pediatric departments of almost all hospitals in the Netherlands are completely full. Many hospitals stopped taking in child patients and several children have been transferred to hospitals in Belgium. The problems are especially big in the Randstad, where hospitals are looking for somewhere to place 30 to 35 sick children a day, the Dutch association for pediatrics NVK said to NOS.

According to NVK chairman and pediatrician Karoly Illy, there are two main reasons for the overcrowded pediatric departments - there are too few pediatric nurses and many children are currently sick due to cold viruses. The RS virus in particular is causing problems this year, he said to NOS. It causes respiratory problems in young children, which means they sometimes have to be admitted to intensive care. 

"Last night I was called as a pediatrician in Tiel by a colleague from Hoofddorp who was looking for a place for a child. I was the 17th doctor he called. A pediatrician has better things to do than calling 17 people", Illy said to NOS. 

He acknowledged that it is unpleasant for children and parents to have to travel far to a hospital, but he stressed that good care is always given.

Pediatrician Edmond Rings of the Sophia Children's Hospital in Rotterdam told a similar tale to AD. "We have been struggling for years with a national bed deficit in intensive care and neonatology departments, but on top fo that almost al 80 nursing wards in the country are full of sick children. This makes it impossible to move between these departments," he said to the newspaper. He called the bed deficit dramatic, saying that it led to surgeries being postponed, but he too stressed that nobody's health has been endangered.

Hospitals in the Netherlands will soon implement a digital system that will immediately make clear where beds are still available, according to NOS. This system is already implemented in The Hague region and is a great success there, Illy said to the broadcaster.

More pediatric nurses are also being trained. But as this training takes 15 months, that is not a quick solution.