Capacity problems causing dangerous situations for pregnant women, babies, Obstetricians warn

Staff shortages and the elimination of birthing rooms in hospitals are leading to dangerous situations for pregnant mothers and their babies, the Netherlands' association for obstetricians KNOV warned in De Telegraaf. 

"Our obstetricians have to move further and further with their pregnant clients and ask for a place at other hospitals," KNOV director Charlotte de Schepper said to De Telegraaf. "For example, we have reports that an obstetrician had to go from Houten to Gorinchem or from Leeuwarden to Amsterdam."

According to the KNOV, the only reason there has been no calamities is the extra efforts of obstetricians, nurses and gynecologists. But just because no serious incidents have been reported to the Healthcare Inspectorate, does not mean that there have been no near-misses, De Schepper said. "There is under-reporting in situations that could have gone wrong." Healthcare workers don't report these near-misses out of solidarity, but there are regions in which dozens of incidents were barely avoided, she said.

In the Netherlands, women are free to choose where they want to give birth. But the capacity problems are putting that choice at risk, De Schepper said. "In a number of regions, the situation has now arisen that women in labor have to give birth at home against their will and cannot go to a hospital for their desired outpatient birth." This is particularly a problem for women with medical issues, she said to the newspaper.

Minister Bruno Bruins for Medical Care confirmed to the newspaper that the Healthcare Inspectorate has received no reports of incidents in Obstetrics, but said he takes the concerns of the KNOV seriously. "If there are problems, I also want to know what the cause is and which additional measures are needed," he said.