The maximum waiting times for certain treatments in many Dutch hospitals are being exceeded as specialists reach the end of their budgets, the NRC says on Thursday.
Figures from medical research group MediQuest show that in August patients at 25 hospitals had to wait longer than the agreed seven weeks for a knee operation. Patients were also waiting more than the four week standard for help in a pain clinic at 58 hospitals.
Waiting lists are growing even though there are empty operating theatres and sufficient doctors and nursing staff on stand by, the paper says.
Health insurers have to buy in care for hospitals in advance and this can lead to a patient stop or referrals to another hospital, particularly in the second half the year. This means that in some cases patients are treated differently according to their insurance policy.
The consumers’ association Consumentenbond described the situation as ‘topsy turvy’ and said it is absurd that some patients are treated more slowly than others because they have different insurance.
Health insurance companies and the health authority NZa said in a reaction that doctors should continue to treat patients, even if budgets have been exhausted.
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