Dutch GP's struggling under after-Covid work pressure
General practitioners in the Netherlands are struggling with a heavy workload in catching up on care postponed during the Covid-19 pandemic while also struggling with staff shortages. They often have to answer phones themselves because they can't find an assistant, or can't go on holiday for rest because they can't find a replacement for themselves, GP's association LHV told NOS after surveying 1,100 of its 13,000 members.
Three-quarters of GPs said that their workload is too high. About 60 percent said it is difficult to find replacements for themselves or their employees. Half said they have less energy now than before the coronavirus pandemic. The GPs are concerned about the well-being of their staff and themselves, LHV said.
"These are shocking figures that show that the workload is really getting out of hand," LHV chairman Mirjam van 't Veld said to NOS. "We have seen many more care questions and catch-up care since the pandemic. Where people previously postponed care, they no longer do that. I see the fatigue in the general practitioners when I visit them."
According to Van 't Veld, GPs are also helping more and more people who can't find help elsewhere due to waiting lists at hospitals, mental healthcare, and youth care. And the increased demand will eventually also have consequences for GPs' availability. "We are already seeing that you have to wait a bit longer here and there before you can go to them with a non-urgent care question. We really don't want that; we don't want the GP to lose that low threshold. That's why we sound the alarm."
The Cabinet needs to intervene, Van 't Veld said to the broadcaster. "Really remove the administrative burden and don't come to us again for new large-scale vaccination campaigns. We will continue to do the flu vaccination, but if we start administering boosters against Covid-19 later, the GGD can do it without us," she said.
Van 't Veld stressed that the high workload does not mean that people should avoid going to the doctor. "Please don't do that. It will only lead to more delayed care, and it will have to be caught up at some point."