Youp van ’t Hek thinks doesn’t like private health & safety firms passing on his medical details, nor does he wish writers in search of inspiration to peer into his chest cavity.
When the check out girl at Kruidvat feels ill she doesn’t call her boss but someone at Verzuimreductie.nl, a private health and safety firm contracted by the drugstore chain. Verzuimreductie.nl (literally: absenteeism reduction) is the biggest private health & safety firm. It’s big enough to sponsor a football club. It’s Go Ahead Eagles but it will set them back a few bob nevertheless.
This is how it works. The ailing check out girl rings a call centre where some unqualified clown, laughingly called a case manager by Verzuimreductie.nl, asks you to reveal all but the colour of your pj’s. Do you menstruate regularly, miss? Are you on anti-depressants? Where exactly is your stomach ache located? Are you suffering from diarrhoea? Are you on a banga list, perhaps?
The case manager puts down all the answers in a little report which he sends to the Kruidvat. Not to the company doctor but to the local Kruidvat manager who wants to know how long it will be before the check out girl will resume her checking out activities. He reads the report avidly. It was all in news programme Zembla last week. I had to watch it several times, just to make sure I was seeing what I was seeing.
It was all true. The founder of Verzuimreductie.nl is a canny businessman with two swimming certificates to his name who is apparently wholly oblivious of a little something called patient confidentiality. But is the Kruidvat equally ignorant? Surely the Kruidvat bosses are clever boys and girls? Have their parents never told them that it is not done to blab about other people’s medical details? Or is the Kruidvat too busy competing with all the other drug stores? The Kruidvat director must have asked Verzuimreductie.nl how it was going to reduce absenteeism among staff and Verzuimreductie.nl must have told him.
What’s wrong with everybody? The Hague hockey boy Oerlemans and a couple of professors installed 35 cameras at the Amsterdam VUmc hospital. (I repeat: ‘and a couple of professors’). How was this even possible? The professors must have had a meeting at some point in which they decided that it would not be a problem at all to let Oerlemans look in on patients. At the same time, a man called Giphart was wandering around the same hospital, an intern badge on his white coat. He was working on a book. He has been allowed to look into the pots and pans of top chefs so why not do the same with the chestst cavities at the cardiology department? This was discussed at a meeting and okayed by the medical staff!
I can’t wait for a reaction from the Kruidvat bosses. What are your meetings about? Do you even care about the vulnerability of your own workers?
An ethical approach to things medical. How hard can it be? Your own family doctor’s surgery doesn’t take place in a busy waiting room with the receptionist asking the questions, does it? He’s not on the phone to your boss the moment you’ve gone, is he?
How is it possible that the cowboys from Verzuimreductie.nl had so much room for manoeuvre? I noticed a familiar face at the offices of Verzuimreductie.nl : it was football pundit Jan van Hulst who promptly announced he would quit. And rightly so. You really don’t want to be associated with people like that. Unless you are het Kruidvat, or V&D.
This firm has won a number of awards over the years. For clever business practices. That says a lot about our country. Soon, when we’ve cut back 1 billion on development aid, we will expect a prize for that. It will be another proud moment.
Youp van ‘t Hek is one of the country’s best loved comedians and writers
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