‘Doctors make fewer referrals for follow-up care or specialist advice’

Photo: Depositphotos.com
Photo: Depositphotos.com

Family doctors in the Netherlands have made over 1.7 million fewer referrals for specialist advice and other follow-up treatment for their patients since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

In total, the number of requests for further tests, and help from physiotherapists, residential nursing care and psychiatric services, is down 12%, according to healthcare registration platform ZorgDomein.

The findings are further evidence of the impact of coronavirus on regular healthcare. Earlier this month, public health institute RIVM said the first wave of coronavirus in the Netherlands has led to the loss of 50,000 years of healthy living.

‘Many patients faced delayed appointments and treatment and some patients cancelled their appointments because they were worried about becoming infected or did not want to be a burden on the healthcare system,’ the RIVM said.

The Dutch pathologists association NVVP has also referred to the ‘alarming’ drop in the number of diagnoses for serious diseases during the pandemic.

In total, 10% to 15% fewer cases of serious disease have been identified than in recent years and adults and children are equally affected, the association said earlier. In particular, pathologists report a 25% drop in the number of people taking part in population-based screenings for cervical, colon and breast cancer.

Since December 22, all non-urgent care appointments at Dutch hospitals and clinics has been cancelled to free up staff to concentrate on acute services.

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