Hospital patients wait four times longer for post-Covid catch-up care than those in private clinics
Patients treated by hospitals have to wait much longer for a treatment postponed during the pandemic to be caught up than patients treated by a private clinic. For some treatments, waiting times at hospitals are up to four times longer than at private clinics, investigative journalism platform Investico found in a study for Trouw and De Groene Amsterdammer.
Patients in private clinics wait an average of six days for an MRI scan, for example, while patients in hospitals have to wait over three weeks - almost four times as long. Waiting lists are also much longer at hospitals for treatments often postponed during the coronavirus crisis, like cataract surgery, knee and hip replacements, and the removal of varicose veins.
Investico journalist Emiel Woutersen told broadcaster NOS that private clinics could treat more patients and shorten hospital waiting lists. But hospitals can't refer all patients on their waiting lists to private clinics, which are often specialized in one area and can therefore not take on complex patients who need, for example, a hip replacement and also have diabetes.
Hospitals are also reluctant to refer non-complex patients to private clinics because they are also easy patients to treat for hospitals, and money is missed out on if they are sent elsewhere, Woutersen said.
Patients who feel they are waiting too long for hospital treatment can contact their health insurer and inquire about being transferred to a private clinic, Woutersen said.
According to the Dutch Healthcare Authority (NZa), Dutch hospitals postponed approximately 130,000 surgeries during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Dutch Association of Hospitals said it will likely be working on catch-up care until 2023.