ME sufferers 'being let down by healthcare system'

CZ increases health insurance premiums by 3%, well below government forecast

People suffering from ME are not receiving adequate treatment because many doctors and researchers are failing to take the condition seriously, the government's health advisory body has said. In an official report, the Gezondheidsraad said the chronic condition was too often downgraded to 'fatigue' or a problem 'between the ears', while patients tended to be dismissed as attention seekers, NOS reported. Between 30,000 and 40,000 people in the Netherlands are estimated to suffer from ME or chronic fatigue syndrome. Some of them spend days in bed recovering. Patient Lisa Klaasen told NOS: 'Compare it with a heavy flu. You're ill and in pain and your whole body is constantly crying out with tiredness.' Yvonne van der Ploeg, a member of the executive board of the ME/CFS association, said research into the condition had stood still for 40 years. 'Now at last we can start to make inroads,' she said. The Gezondheidsraad said diagnosis of the condition was hampered by doctors' preconceptions and tendency to regard it as a psychological issue. Patients with ME are often required to undergo behavioural or occupational therapy to qualify for benefits and health insurance, even though these treatments are often ineffective.  More >

Patients to get more control over info

CZ increases health insurance premiums by 3%, well below government forecast From next year, people will be able to 'manage' their own medical records on their computer or mobile phone and decide who should have access to what information, health minister Bruno Bruins has told the Volkskrant. The minister told the paper in an interview he has allocated €3m to develop what he calls a 'personal healthcare environment' by an alliance of patients, health insurers, healthcare providers and the national healthcare IT institute. The development of digital medical records has been a controversial issue in the Netherlands and in 2011 the upper house of parliament pulled the plug on a €300m project to introduce them due to privacy concerns. In the new system, patients will decide what parts of their health records should be included and who should be able to see what information, Bruins told the Volkskrant. 'There are already apps allowing you to gather your information in one place. Now the rules will be established,' the minister said. Trials are already underway and will be rounded off in the summer. The new system should be ready for roll-out next year, he said. Privacy, he said, is paramount and the system will have the highest possible standards. 'But it also has to ensure that everyone can use it, including people who can't read well,' he said.  More >

One in five have trouble sleeping

CZ increases health insurance premiums by 3%, well below government forecast One in five people in the Netherlands have trouble sleeping and women are more likely to have problems than men, according to research by national statistics agency CBS to coincide with World Sleep Day. People on low incomes are also more likely to sleep badly, as are older people. And four in 10 say their sleeping problems means they work less efficiently and have bad moods. While just 8% of 12 to 16-year-olds complain about not sleeping well, that rises to 28% among the over-75s. Older women are the least likely to sleep well. Almost one third of women aged 55 to 65 report sleep problems, compared with one in five men of the same age. Medication Research by Erasmus University last year said older women are more than twice as likely as men to take medication to help them sleep.   Women are more likely to have trouble falling asleep than men, they wake up more often and use more drugs. For example, 17.% of women over the age of 65 take medicine to help them sleep, compared with 6.1% of men. Although 90% of the Dutch do sleep enough ‘that does not mean we all sleep well,’ Eus van Someren of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience told broadcaster NOS last year. ‘We have trouble falling asleep, use drugs and have difficulty waking up. We really have to tackle this.’  More >

Healthcare job vacancies hit 130,000

CZ increases health insurance premiums by 3%, well below government forecast The Dutch healthcare sector will have to fill 130,000 jobs this year and there are no candidates for a growing number of functions, the state jobs agency UWV said on Monday. More than one million people currently work in care services, of whom 23% are over the age of 55 and approaching retirement age, the UWV said in a new report. 'We are getting new people fresh from training but far from enough,' UWV labour market expert Mechelien van der Aalst told broadcaster NOS. Hospitals, home care groups and mental health services are grappling with the biggest shortages of staff. 'Hospitals have no more leeway,' Willem de Boer, of the Dutch hospitals association told NOS. 'Hospital personnel are under a great deal of strain and many are working extra shifts.' In some cases operations have been cancelled and specialist care units have called a halt to new admissions because of the shortage of trained staff, he said. Health minister Bruno Bruins is due to outline how he plans to tackle the shortage of healthcare staff to parliament on Wednesday.  More >

More euthanasia in the Netherlands

CZ increases health insurance premiums by 3%, well below government forecast The number of people helped to die under Dutch euthanasia legislation rose 8% last year to 6,585, the regional monitoring committee said on Wednesday. Of them, 99.8% were carried out carefully and in line with the guidelines, the committee says in its 2017 annual report. In almost 90% of cases, the patient was suffering from cancer, heart and artery disease or diseases of the nervous system, such as Parkinson and MS. Three patients were in the advanced stage of dementia and 166 were in earlier stages. In 83 cases, the patient was suffering from severe psychiatric issues, a trend which has raised questions among psychiatrists, RTL Nieuws reported earlier this year. Twelve cases were labeled by the monitoring committee as not being carefully carried out - these were mainly problems with medical care or not having an independent second opinion. Euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands under strict conditions. For example, the patient must be suffering unbearable pain and the doctor must be convinced the patient is making an informed choice. The opinion of a second doctor is also required. The 8% rise in cases is in line with previous years and most patients are over the age of 70. 'People are becoming older,' said Jacob Kohnstamm, who chairs the committee, in the NRC. 'Doctors know more about euthanasia and people are more aware of the issues. Given the post war population increase, this trend will continue.'  More >