Senior medics urged to support hardship fund for colleagues in debt


Senior medics have called on their colleagues to help low-paid healthcare workers who are struggling with debt by donating part of their salary to a hardship fund.

Maurice van den Bosch, chairman of the board of Amsterdam’s general hospital OLVG, said an estimated 5% and 10% of people working in healthcare were subjected to debt recovery orders, which allow creditors to deduct debts direct from their wages.

Among nursing home staff the proportion is as high as 15%, Den Bosch told NOS, explaining he had based his figures on consultations with other healthcare managers.

Den Bosch said he was prepared to give €5,000 from his wages to help set up a fund to pay off the debts of staff who were struggling to make ends meet ahead of a winter when rising energy bills are already causing extreme financial anxiety.

‘If 1,000 colleagues join in, we can start a fund with €5 million,’ he said in a LinkedIn post. ‘It may only solve a small part of the puzzle, but it’s a good start. Another solution is that we need to raise wages through our collective agreement with unions.’

Doctors on board

The Federation for Medical Specialists, a collective of 23,000 doctors and hospital staff, have already said they are prepared to support the fund, while the VvAA, which represents family and company doctors and other medics, has also backed the idea.

Van den Bosch said that without financial support, low-paid workers were more likely to go on sick leave in a sector where high levels of absence is a legacy of the coronavirus pandemic.

‘Healthcare workers were already under severe pressure because of coronavirus and now they are having to deal with this. That means we’ll see staff dropping out, because financial problems are bad for your health,’ he said.

Another danger Van den Bosch raised was that students are likely to put off or abandon their training, creating staffing problems for the future. ‘Students see during training that they can’t make ends meet and stop early. I know cases where this has happened.’

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