Regular care finally back to normal after Covid standstill
Regular healthcare is finally back to pre-coronavirus levels, the Dutch healthcare authority NZa said on Friday. The number of referrals and hospital treatments are all back to the level they were before the pandemic hit.
The coronavirus crisis brought all non-urgent care to a halt during the first weeks of the pandemic. But once the number of Covid-19 related ICU patients started to stabilize and decrease, regular healthcare slowly started up again, with most hospitals staring to expand their care provisions in late April and early May.
In July, Dutch hospitals treated around 750 thousand people, comparable to the same month in 2019 and 2018. The number of referrals to specialist care and mental healthcare was also similar to July 2019 and 2018, the NZa said.
But that doesn't mean that healthcare has caught up. Since the start of the crisis, over 800 thousand fewer referrals were made to hospitals than expected, NZa chairman Marian Kaljouw said. "For some of these people, this has le to health damage, such as patients with cancer, cardiovascular disease and neurological disorders. We are very concerned about this. We therefore want to urge people to go to their GP if they have complaints."
As recently as Monday, acute care expert Ernst Kuipers said he was concerned that the the Dutch intensive care system was still treating about half of its normal capacity. He said earlier in the week, “The overall ICU occupancy remains unchanged and very low, even for the holiday period. This is a sign that regular care is still not back to normal.”