Saturday 23 January 2021

Emergency Covid-19 hospitals were unused, but who will pay for them?


It is unclear who will pick up the bill for two emergency hospitals which were built to take coronavirus patients but which were never used, according to investigative journalism platform Investico.

In Rotterdam, the Ahoy exhibition centre was turned into a temporary hospital, as was the MECC centre in Maastricht. But neither saw any patients and both are now being dismantled.

The total cost of the two emergency hospitals is put at €14m and both were set up without the go-ahead of regional health officials, Investico said.

Health insurance firms had called for the official green light in order to make funding available and say they are not willing now to pick up the bill, the platform said.

Meanwhile, Ernst Kuijpers, who chairs the Erasmus teaching hospital and the national patient coordination centre, has called for a different approach if the Netherlands is hit by a second wave of Covid-19 infections.

Rather than disrupt ordinary care provision, each local health board should designate a hospital to focus on coronavirus only, Kuijpers told broadcaster NOS.

‘We managed to absorb the peak in coronavirus patients but we had to cancel planned operations and nationwide cancer controls,’ he said. ‘We had no choice at the time…but soon we should be able to say patients with Covid-19 should go to a specific hospital, which can increase its intensive care capacity if needed.’

Thank you for donating to

The team would like to thank all the generous readers who have made a donation in recent weeks. Your financial support has helped us to expand our coverage of the coronavirus crisis into the evenings and weekends and make sure you are kept up to date with the latest developments. has been free for 14 years, but without the financial backing of our readers, we would not be able to provide you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch. Your contributions make this possible.

If you have not yet made a donation, but would like to, you can do so via Ideal, credit card or Paypal.