Lack of staff and red tape are crippling family doctor referrals

Zeeland is facing a shortage of GPs as doctors retire.

Family doctors are unable to refer vulnerable patients to the appropriate institutions because of a lack of staff and crippling bureaucracy, leaving thousands of people without adequate care, a doctors’ campaign group has claimed.

A survey among 2,000 family doctors by action group Het Roer Moet Om (a change of direction is needed ) shows that it is becoming increasingly difficult to quickly and efficiently organise appropriate care for elderly people with dementia, psychiatric patients, people who are chronically ill and children with psychiatric problems.

According to the survey, family doctors are confronted with an average of six patients a week for whom adequate follow-up care is extremely difficult to arrange or not available at all.

The bottle-necks are caused by lack of staff at care institutions, bureaucracy, and a lack of transparency about who is responsible for the care of the patients, the action group said.

The problems are ‘a silent disaster’ the group said, because the problems are not widely known about outside the doctor’s surgery. It is vital new measures are taken to bring back cohesion to care so cooperation can be more efficient, the organisation said.

Het Roer Moet Om is presenting the results of the survey to MPs on Tuesday and is organising a debate with all parties involved on December 14. The resulting concrete measures will be proposed to health care minster Bruno Bruins and health minister Hugo de Jonge before the Christmas break.

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