Wednesday 20 January 2021

Health inspectors probe ‘climate of fear’ at Utrecht hospital

SurgeonsHealth ministry inspectors are looking into claims that there is a culture of fear at the ear, nose and throat department of Utrecht University’s teaching hospital, according to current affairs show Zembla.

A number of doctors contacted the health ministry last year but that investigation stalled because of a lack of concrete information about cases where things had gone wrong. The doctors did not dare to give more details because they were afraid of losing their anonymity, Zembla said.

The programme alleges that the department head is authoritarian and operates a policy of ‘divide and rule’. One doctor described him as a ‘tyrant… without moral values’.

The climate of fear is threatening patient safety because doctors no longer dare to report mistakes, one former surgeon told the programme. In addition, surgeons are being forced to work under immense time pressure, which is also having an impact.

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