Dutch policy for severe Long Covid seriously below par, patients, doctors say
Over three years after the coronavirus pandemic hit the Netherlands, the care for patients with severe Long Covid is still seriously below par. Patients, doctors, and researchers all score this type of care a 5 or lower, AD reports.
According to patient organizations, people with relatively simple symptoms can get reasonable help through their physiotherapist or occupational therapist. But for the group that suffers from severe and complex symptoms, the healthcare system is “a dark hole,” Michael Rutgers of the patient association PostCovid NL told the newspaper. He’d score Long Covid care in the Netherlands a 4 out of 10.
Pascal Grootveld of Long Covid Nederland would go no higher than a 3. “If you don’t happen to have a good doctor willing to do something extra, you are at the mercy of your fate.”
C-Support, a government-commissioned association to support patients with Long Covid, rated the care “a 4 or a 5,” according to the newspaper. According to director Annemiek de Groot, this subpar care exposes that something is structurally wrong with healthcare in the Netherlands. “Each specialist - the neurologist, the cardiologist, the pulmonologist - looks at a sub-aspect. But Long Covid attacks the entire system.”
Michele van Vught, professor of infectious diseases at UMC Amsterdam, agreed. “You need doctors who see the entire body, including the mind. But that is not how it is organized.” Several hospitals opened Long Covid clinics, bringing together various fields of expertise. But they closed their doors one by one due to lack of funding. “There are no proven treatments. Then there is no reimbursement from the health insurer. You can’t help people right now. As a result, they just get further out of the picture. As a healthcare provider, that also makes you despondent.”
And the substandard care has “really dramatic” consequences for patients, said Van Vught. “They are losing hope. People get impatient when they are sick for a month. These patients are sometimes sick for two or three years.”