Policy responses for Netherlands - HSRM


Policy responses for Netherlands

2.2 Workforce

A shortage of health care personnel in hospitals, especially nurses, already existed before the COVID-19 outbreak. Hospitals in the outbreak area have made an appeal to former health care personnel (retired or otherwise not working in hospitals anymore) to volunteer for a job. There is a special vacancy website where hospitals post vacancies and persons that are willing to help can register themselves (https://www.gezondheidszorgbanen.nl/covid19). Health care professionals whose official registration has expired after 1 January 2018 but are still sufficiently skilled are allowed to return to work for COVID-19 related care. Additionally, obligations for re-registration are postponed and physicians will temporarily not be deregistered (https://www.knmg.nl/actualiteit-opinie/nieuws/nieuwsbericht-corona/minister-bevestigt-versoepeling-big-regels-voor-inzet-zorgpersoneel-in-noodsituaties.htm). Medical schools have stopped residencies for physicians in training, since there is no time for supervision and for the safety of the students (https://www.rtvutrecht.nl/nieuws/2027639/umc-utrecht-stopt-met-alle-coschappen-en-is-blij-met-enorme-steun-van-nederland.html)

Although schools and childcare facilities are closed (see Section 1.2), children with parents that have essential professions, such as health care professionals, still can go to school and childcare in order to facilitate the ability of their parents for work.
The Public Health Services have temporarily reassigned all healthcare-related personnel (except for the personnel involved in child health check-ups for children below the age of four, because of continuation of the vaccination program) to perform contact tracing and man helplines. The Red Cross also opened a helpline for the general public.

For physicians that intend to help on an ICU an online course is available to refresh their knowledge (https://nvic.nl/covid-19).
There are capacity problems in homecare due to sick leave of homecare nurses, lack of personal protective equipment, and the extra time that care takes under the circumstances. Virtual need assessments in homecare are now possible using telecommunication  (https://www.venvn.nl/nieuws/coronacrisis-indicatiestelling-verruimd-naar-beeld-bellen-maar-achter-de-voordeur-komen-blijft-belangrijk/). Instructions for homecare personnel are available from RIVM (https://www.rivm.nl/coronavirus/covid-19/informatie-voor-professionals/thuiszorg).

Dentists have postponed all regular care and perform emergency care only. This was a decision taken by the professional group, rather than a governmental decree. At the beginning of May, dentists will resume their normal services.

The military helps by providing medical personnel and ventilators to several civilian hospitals. The Calamity Hospital, which is part of the University Medical Centre Utrecht and which is targeted to treat patients in the case of large disasters or incidents, is preparing to have a maximum of 80 extra beds available. The military will provide the personnel necessary for deploying these beds (https://www.ad.nl/utrecht/meer-ic-bedden-voor-coronapatienten-in-calamiteitenhospitaal-umc-utrecht~aed82e69/).

In January 2021, the military is involved in hospital care, care in care hotels and nursing homes (both medical and non-medical), support for testing and vaccination locations, protection of vaccine storage locations and provision of ventilators (https://www.defensie.nl/onderwerpen/coronavirus-covid-19).

Care personnel that worked at the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis will receive a financial compensation of EUR 1000. Motions in parliament to increase wages of care personnel were rejected three times. For 2021, a bonus of EUR 500 is foreseen.

To support personnel to prevent burnout, hospitals offer mental care. At some places, medical students and interns are helping out to relieve pressure.