Rutte compromises on district nursing cuts as new cabinet starts work

Klaas Dijkhof and Sybrand Buma during the debate. Photo: Peter Hilz / HH

Cabinet plans to cut €100m from the district nursing budget have been softened after prime minister Mark Rutte gave assurances to parliament that any changes would not hit the quality or boost the pressure on staff.

Opposition parties, led by Labour leader Lodewijk Asscher, had called on the new administration to reverse the cuts during two days of debate on the cabinet’s four-year policy plans.

The measure is part of a package which ministers hope will stem the continual rise in healthcare spending. Excluding district nursing from the plans before they have been worked out in detail with hospitals and healthcare providers was not an option, Rutte said.

However, the cuts will not have an impact on the quality, availability of services or on nurses workload, the prime minister said.

The compromise is seen by commentators as a show of good faith by Rutte, who has a majority of just one seat in the lower house of parliament.

‘This cabinet is going to engage with the entire lower house,’ Rutte said.

MPs have also agreed that the Dutch flag will be raised in the parliament’s debating chamber, in line with a request from the fundamentalist Protestant SGP.