Private medical clinics can quickly organize more care capacity to perform additional operations and procedures if necessary. In this way, despite the large-scale scaling down in hospitals, a large part of the planned care – such as knee, hip and cataract operations, but also gallbladder procedures or research into skin cancer – can continue. This is what the umbrella organization for Independent Clinics in the Netherlands says.
Even if these are ‘simple’ interventions, the number that has to be caught up is considerable. The Dutch Healthcare Authority (NZa) stated in September that this involved 180,000 to 200,000 operations. The increasingly longer waiting lists mean that patients will be left with their disorders for the time being and their quality of life will deteriorate.
That number will only increase. The National Acute Care Network (LNAZ) asked outgoing Minister De Jonge this week to ratify phase 2D in hospitals – the last level before ‘crisis phase’ 3. The minister did that yesterday. In concrete terms, for example, hip replacements and inguinal hernia corrections will virtually no longer be performed in this new phase.
‘Helping 100,000 extra patients’
The umbrella organization of Independent Clinics in the Netherlands (ZKN) is therefore calling on health insurers in the Netherlands and the cabinet to make greater use of private clinics. ZKN estimates that they have already helped 10 to 15 percent more people this year than the number of patients (1 million) agreed with health insurers.
“With this, our contribution to catch-up care would amount to 100,000 to 150,000 patients,” says ZKN spokesperson Herman Nieuwenhuis. “That was good this year, because the hospitals often had to scale down in 2021. For 2022 we expect such an appeal to the clinics again because we all see what is happening in the hospitals now. And clinics could also go further. scale, hopefully adding another 100,000 patients by 2022.”
According to ZKN, this further scaling up is possible because private clinics are completely organized around a small number of specializations. Expanding capacity would therefore be logistically easier. By also opening the clinics on weekends and extending opening hours during the week, more capacity would quickly become available.