Bigger role for Dutch gov't in healthcare post-pandemic: Health Minister
In the wake of the shock to the healthcare system brought about by Covid-19, Minister of Health Hugo de Jonge believes that there should be a larger role for the public sector in the Netherlands with respects to accessing care. In an interview with the newspaper AD on Saturday, the minister explained why he believes that the government should not be afraid to step further into the country's healthcare sector.
"As far as I am concerned, all types of care must continue to cooperate extensively, from nursing homes to hospitals and care institutions for the disabled. I also want it to be possible nationwide to intervene and make adjustments when you see that it does not work by itself. And where the financing is aimed at competing, this has to be arranged differently," De Jonge said.
While the Netherlands enjoys a system of universal healthcare, all adults are required by law to take out a basic insurance plan to cover visits to the doctor or hospital. In effect, this leaves the healthcare system managed by the Dutch government, with private insurers supplementing the cost of care.
According to De Jonge, expanding the government's role further does not mean that the process will necessarily become more bureaucratic. "[I]t has not become more bureaucratic in recent months, there has been fast action. But it must be fundamentally different, yes. The central government must sometimes have a compelling and guiding role. You now notice that on all fronts," he explained.
De Jonge added that this phenomenon has been most evident with regard to testing, which he claimed could not be run effectively by the private sector. "The testing lacked an overview, with the protective equipment, with the ICU capacity. You want to be in control. We have yet to work out exactly how we will do this and discuss it with the House. But that something has to be done is now clear," said De Jonge.
Aside from his position on healthcare, De Jonge also touched on a number of subjects related to his handling of the Covid-19 crisis more broadly. Defending allegations of shortcomings with regards to the number of care home deaths, the Minister asserted that some things simply cannot be controlled, despite the government's best efforts. "Of course it is painful. I visited nursing homes where many people died. That is intensely sad, you see, hear and feel the pain," he lamented.
"From day one I worked non-stop to fix that," De Jonge went on. "This department, this minister, has done everything in our power, but you cannot prevent everything. I can't do magic, but I can work very hard. And I did that."