Efforts to get healthcare institutions to monitor and improve their own standards of care have largely failed, the national audit office said in a report on Wednesday.
Rules introduced 13 years ago require hospitals and other providers to draw up their own quality standards and make sure they are monitored. But only home help services, homes for the handicapped and nursing homes have made efforts to do so, the auditor said.
In particular, plans to allow hospital patients to find out how well their hospital performs are far from a reality, the audit office said.
While 90% of the Dutch are happy with the standards of healthcare, the Netherlands does not perform well in international comparisons.
In particular, the death rate among patients who have undergone operations is high and the survival chances of cancer patients are low compared with other countries. The perinatal death rate in the Netherlands is also high, the audit office said. The availability of skilled staff is also an important issue and standards in the care of the elderly have gone down slightly.
Earlier on Wednesday the Volkskrant reported that Dutch hospitals had saved a combined €2.9bn on their wage bills over the past five years by boosting efficiency. The number of full-time jobs in hospitals went down by 15,000 in 2007, the paper said.
The results show that hospitals can be given more free reign to set their own fees, said Roelf de Boer, chairman of the hospital association NVZ. Currently hospitals can decide their own prices for 34% of treatments, but that can go up to 70% by 2011, he said.
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