Hospitals press ahead with proton cancer plans, despite insurers' opposition

Stedelijk focuses on wartime role, 16 works of art have ‘dubious’ origins

At least two specialist cancer treatment centres which use proton therapy are to be built in the Netherlands after all, the Volkskrant reports on Thursday. The centres will be in Delft and Groningen and will take their first patients in 2017. The centres are being built without having reached agreement with health insurance companies on payment for treatment, the Volkskrant says. Health minister Edith Schippers gave four hospitals licences to develop proton therapy centres in 2013. They would have capacity to treat 2,200 patients a year. [banner] But insurance companies are opposed to the development of four centres, saying one would be sufficient. Last month, the head of Groningen University’s teaching hospital accused health insurance companies of acting as a cartel by delaying the developments. Concerns Insurers, however, say they are worried that money is being wasted.  ‘We are concerned that a lot of money is being put into facilities which we may question in 10 years' time,’ Ben Crul, senior medical advisor at health insurance company Zilveren Kruis Achmea told the paper. Britain, he pointed out, only has two proton treatment centres and medical developments may lead to the treatment being unnecessary in many cases. Amsterdam and Maastricht are also pressing ahead with their proton centre plans, the Volkskrant says. The hospitals do not expect the insurers to refuse to pay for treatment as they already pay for patients who go abroad for proton therapy, the paper points out.    More >

MPs invite private equity firms to debate

Stedelijk focuses on wartime role, 16 works of art have ‘dubious’ origins The Dutch parliament has organised a round-table meeting with private equity experts at the end of April, to help MPs get a better picture of the ‘damaging effects’ of private equity and to discuss changes in legislation, the NRC said on Thursday. Events at childcare group Estro, waste processor Van Gansewinkel, retailer Hema and the NRC newspaper are illustrations of the problems private equity can bring, according to Labour MPs. Some private equity houses use tax and legal constructions to empty the companies they take over, rather than strengthen them, Labour MP Henk Nijboer says in a letter to the parliamentary finance committee. [banner] The guest list includes representatives from Dutch private equity firms such as NPM Capital and Egeria as well as US giant KKR, which owns Van Gansewinkel. It is not clear from the NRC report if the private equity firms have agreed to attend.  More >

KLM says job loss reports are guesswork

Stedelijk focuses on wartime role, 16 works of art have ‘dubious’ origins Reports that KLM plans to cut between 500 and 1,000 jobs by mid 2016 are pure guesswork, the airline said on Thursday. The Telegraaf earlier quoted the chairman of the cabin personnel union VHKP as saying the job losses were on the cards. And Bob van der Wal told the paper that he has been warned much more serious steps will need to be taken if the airline fails to grow. [banner] However, in an interview with website, Van der Wal said KLM wants to boost productivity 20% by 2020 and reduce labour costs by 10%. This means a reduction of 500 to 1,000 jobs,’ he said. ‘But this is an indication, and the exact plans still have to be worked out. ‘KLM has said it wants to streamline the organisation more and cut labour costs. You can do the sums but I don’t know anything about concrete numbers,’ FNV spokesman Jan van den Brink told KLM said last November it plans to save €700m over five years, of which €400m should be generated by lower employment costs.  More >

20,000 sign up for online Dutch course

Stedelijk focuses on wartime role, 16 works of art have ‘dubious’ origins Almost 20,000 people from around the world have signed up for an online course to learn Dutch offered by the University of Groningen. The course, an introduction to the Dutch language, will start in March and is completely free. ‘They come from all over the place – Australia, the US, South Korea, Germany and the Czech Republic,’ Margriet Hidding, from the university’s language centre, told the Telegraaf. [banner] Hidding placed the course on website, where universities advertise their free courses, in December. ‘The registrations began to flood in immediately,’ she says. Girlfriends Some of the new students want to visit the Netherlands for a holiday or to work or study. ‘There are also people with a Dutch girlfriend or boyfriend. One is a retired man in New York who just wants to learn Dutch,’ Hidding said. The course runs for three weeks and includes the basics of reading, writing and conversation. It also includes information about Dutch culture and the landscape. ‘We want to raise our profile among potential new students and staff,’ Hidding said. ‘The education ministry is keen to see this as well. 'Many foreigners who come to the Netherlands leave again as soon as they are finished. This is partly because they don’t speak the language and don’t feel comfortable. But by testing out the language in advance, they will hopefully feel more at home.’  More >

16 Stedelijk works have 'dubious' origins

Stedelijk focuses on wartime role, 16 works of art have ‘dubious’ origins There are 16 works of art in the collection of Amsterdam’s Stedelijk modern art museum which were acquired between 1933 and 1945 ‘under dubious circumstances’, the NRC said on Thursday. The collections of some 150 museums and other institutions in the Netherlands are currently being examined to see if any of the work was stolen, confiscated by the Nazis or was involved in a forced sale during the war years. Many primarily Jewish collectors were coerced into handing over their collections by the Nazi occupiers. Experts from the Stedelijk museum looked at 3,846 items and found several hundred had questions that needed answering, the NRC said. Talks are underway with relatives about compensation for three of the 16 works which are by Kandinsky, Matisse and Jan Toroop. An exhibition about the Stedelijk museum and the Second World War – including the 16 highlighted works – opens on Friday. [banner]  More >