Backlog in surgeries vastly overestimated, hospitals & experts say
The Dutch healthcare authority NZa estimated that between 170,000 and 210,000 surgeries need to be caught up after regular healthcare was postponed during the coronavirus pandemic. But the real backlog will be much lower, hospitals and healthcare experts said to BNR.
"A lot of care was not provided, but you cannot expect that all that care will have to be made up," health economics professor Xander Koolman said to the broadcaster. The NZa figures include a large group of patients who have not reported for care yet, he said. "But there are no signs at all that they will ever do that. After the first coronavirus wave, there was no major catch-up either. Some of that care is simply no longer necessary."
The NZa took insufficient account of other factors, said professor of health economics Marcel Canoy. "Some ailments go away on their own. There were also fewer sports injuries and people were less likely to get sick because of social distancing. In addition, less 'nonsense care' was provided, doctors made sharper choices in times of crisis."
Peter van der Meer, chairman of the board of directors of the Albert Schweitzer hospital, said that the NZa figures do not correspond with practice. "Before the summer, 400 surgeries still had to be caught up at our hospital. We are a large hospital. So if you take this as an average for all hospitals, you arrive at 32,000 surgeries."
Henk van der Stelt of the St Jansdal hospital agreed with Van der Meer's calculations, according to the broadcaster.
The NZa told BNR that it made a "good estimate" that is "close to reality". The Dutch Society of Anesthesiology calculated in June that 140,000 surgeries still needed to be caught up.