Healthcare workers face waiting times for Covid test despite priority: report
Despite the fact that healthcare- and education personnel are given priority in getting tested for the coronavirus, they still often have to wait a long time before getting an appointment. There are "signals" of people abusing the priority testing, newspaper AD reports based on an unpublished letter from the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sports
The letter states that there are "a number of bottlenecks in the testing of healthcare workers in particular", according to the newspaper. "The Ministry is receiving signals that the priority places are being used in ways that were not intended," the Ministry wrote. "It is also said that certain professional groups are wrongly not eligible for a place in the priority test centers."
The Ministry confirmed the content of the letter to AD. "The letter is mainly intended for employers. Under the motto: make sure you really select those people for whom - if they are not tested as a priority - classes will have to go home or crucial care will be at risk," Ministry spokesperson Axel Dees said.
V&VN, the association for nurses and carers, told the newspaper that care workers often have to wait "hours and sometimes days" for the emergency test line. One nurse had to call 12 times before getting an appointment, the association said. "More than two weeks after the start of the priority line, nurses and carers are still not helped quickly. With this testing policy, we are running behind the facts. And it reveals that, six months after the first wave, we still don't have our main line of defense against the virus - testing, testing and more testing - in order."
A poll by the association of school leaders AVS among over 600 school directors showed that more than half are dissatisfied with the priority testing. Teachers and school leaders have a hard time reaching anyone at the priority test line to make an appointment. "I spent at least 3.5 hours trying to get connected last week. Every time the line was cut and I had to call back in half an hour," one school leader said.
According to Sjaak de Gouw, head of infectious disease control at health service GGD, abuse will always be an issue in situations like this. "The system simply isn't watertight. There are people who say: I work at this and this care institution or at this and this school, but they do not have an employer's statement with them when they are at the test center. That just happens," he said to AD. "If you have rules for priority, there are always people who try to take advantage of them, that is also the case now. But I don't know how much that happens."