Healthcare unions, ministers and employers have agreed a joint approach to reducing spending on healthcare, but the biggest union Abvakabo has refused to sign.
Health minister Edith Schippers and her deputy Martin van Rijn presented the results of two weeks of negotiations to the media on Wednesday afternoon.
‘I cannot remember such a broad agreement being reached between employers and unions in the healthcare sector,’ Schippers said.
The FNV-affiliated Abvakabo union said it would not support the deal and that the cabinet lacks the political will to work out an agreement with broad support. It is particularly angry that tens of thousands of jobs will be lost.
The deal involves slashing entitlement to home nursing and shift the burden of care to family and friends, leading to a 40% reduction in home nursing levels. The government had originally planned a 75% cut.
In return for this, unions have agreed to moderate their wage demands and freeze other wage-related spending until 2016. The money freed up by this will be used in part to soften the impact of cuts in home nursing care for the elderly and chronically sick.
Van Rijn believes a bigger role for families would be a good way to keep care affordable. He says there should be agreement between family carers and the professional sector about ‘who can do what’. This would allow the elderly to get the help they need but at no extra cost.
In particular, Abvakabo says reforms to home nursing will lead to 50,000 job losses. Minister Van Rijn says the figure will be closer to 30,000.
‘At times of historically high unemployment, we cannot responsibly give support as a union to tens of thousands more sackings,’ negotiator Corrie van Brenk is quoted as saying by the Volkskrant.
MPs will debate the plans on Wednesday evening.
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