Waiting time for mental health related euthanasia request now 2 years: report
People with a mental illness who request euthanasia are facing longer and longer waiting times before they can get help. Since December, the waiting time at the Euthanasia Expertise Center has doubled to two years, Trouw reports.
The Expertise Center is finding it impossible to recruit new staff, while the number of requests for help continues to increase. In December, seven psychiatrists worked at the center, already too few. That number hasn't changed. Last year the center received 3,122 mental health related requests for help, 22 percent more than in 2019.
While the coronavirus pandemic is an easy thing to blame for the increasing waiting times, the crisis was really only part of the problem, Paulan Starcke of the Expertise Center said to Trouw. According to her, the pandemic caused a maximum delay of two months.
"Our waiting list is primarily a signal that regular mental health care still does not often seriously respond to a request for euthanasia. We are referred to too often," Starcke said.
Patients are referred to the Euthanasia Expertise Center if their regular doctor considers their request too complex to handle themselves. The Expertise Center provided euthanasia to over 60 people with mental health problems last year. Doctors who are not affiliated with the center only did so six times, according to the newspaper.
Starcke wants more psychiatrists to handle euthanasia requests themselves. That is also in the best interest of the patient, because their psychiatrist knows them better than the doctors at the Expertise Center, she said.