VUmc in Amsterdam closes emergency dept at night

Amsterdam's VU medical centre. Photo:

Amsterdam hospital VUmc will not be offering emergency help between 8 pm and 7.30 am from next week, because of a lack of staff, local broadcaster AT5 reported.

Apart from people with heart problems, and patients who are already being treated by the hospital, people in need of emergency care will have to go to the sister hospital AMC.

The hospital had earlier tried to solve the problem by recruiting extra staff and transferring staff from other departments, according to an internal e-mail seen by the broadcaster.

The final closure of the hospital’s emergency department had been planned for May next year, with the AMC as an alternative for emergencies. It is not clear if the VUmc emergency department will be reopened between now and then.

Closures through lack of staff already hit the Isala hospital in Meppel which has not had overnight emergency department for two months, and the Haga hospital in Zoetermeer which scaled down its emergency help to two days a week.

Some 65 of 80 emergency department do not meet official requirements, such as the presence of one doctor with at least a year’s experience, caretaker health minister Ernst Kuipers told the AD in a recent interview. These shouldn’t all close but a temporary halt may be necessary, he said.

Kuipers also said “emergency services around the corner” are no longer a given. “And an emergency department is not always the right place for patients. Research has shown that a quarter of people who ring 112 could have been helped through an online service, such as,” he told the paper.

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