140,000 surgeries delayed over Covid; All hospitals to help catch up
The Dutch medical system will have to catch up on a backlog of some 140,000 surgeries during this year. This will require non-Covid patients to be spread throughout the country, Minister for Medical Care Tamara van Ark told the newspaper AD.
In a letter Van Ark sent to Tweede Kamer, she stated the hospitals are now starting to work on a plan how this can be successfully implemented. She explained this was possible due to a sharp decline in coronavirus cases in recent days, which also made space for more relaxations to take place earlier than planned initially.
According to Van Ark, patients who had their surgeries delayed and were put on a waiting list will soon be given the chance to go to another hospital after consultation with their doctor.
“The patient will have to know in time where he or she stands. When will the treatment be performed by your own doctor, and if it takes too long: can the procedure be performed more quickly in a hospital or private clinic elsewhere? '' said Van Ark.
Delayed chemo treatments and kidney transplants will be given priority in the process. Other, less acute, plannable care such as cataract surgeries, gallbladder removal or hip replacement procedures will be made up for as much as possible this year, if necessary with a run-out to early 2022.
To relieve the pressure on hospitals, general practitioners, private clinics and rehabilitation centers will also be called in to carry out the project, and digital consultations will remain possible. Currently, more than a third of the operating theaters are closed due to the strained hospital capacities amid the coronavirus crisis.
"If you have to wait a long time for a hip, or for sterilization or cataract surgery, that can be very unpleasant, and cause a lot of discomfort," said Van Ark.
Last year, the LCPS was established to coordinate moving patients with the coronavirus disease from busier facilities to emptier locations in other regions.
Van Ark said the hospitals will now be finalizing the plan on how patients will be divided in the coming weeks.