Insurers under fire over hospital accident & emergency closures

There is mounting opposition to plans by health insurance companies to close down dozens of hospital accident and emergency departments, the Financieele Dagblad says on Wednesday.

The leaked plans state, for example, that three of the nine hospitals in The Hague region should lose their A&E department and intensive care services should be reduced in six of them.

In Rotterdam, patients who have a stroke will have to be treated at the Erasmus University teaching hospital because insurers have decided not to buy the care from other hospitals in the region, the FD says.

Neurologists have already said this plan will hit patients who will have to travel longer distances for treatment. Time is crucial in treating stroke patients.


Zoetermeer council has also described plans to close the A&E department at its Lange Land hospital as ‘absurd’ because patients will have to go to Gouda or The Hague for treatment.

Insurers are keen to reorganise complex healthcare into fewer hospitals in order to improve expertise and save costs. This means not all hospitals will offer a complete range of services in the future. Insurers, health minister Edith Schippers and hospitals reached broad agreement on the plan in 2011.

However, the Dutch hospitals’ association NVZ says it doubts that savings will be made. Research by the IPSE institute in Delft shows the maximum savings would be no more than 0.5% of the total hospital budget.

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