Learn from Denmark to shorten the queues

Marina Tuutma, chairman of DLF and second vice-chairman of the Medical Association, shares the opinion of the Netherlands Court of Audit on the effect of the queue billion, standardized care processes in cancer care and the care guarantee: The measures taken by the government to shorten care queues have not worked and have sometimes led to crowding out effects. People with multiple diseases and the elderly, among others, are negatively affected.

– We have warned about this before. There are almost always displacement effects when you make point efforts, says Marina Tuutma.

She describes the long waiting times as side-symptoms of a wide range of basic problems – such as a lack of rest areas, a poor working environment, bottlenecks on the way to the specialism and insufficient dimensioning of the range of competences of specialists. To cope with the care queues, she says, a long-term focus is needed.

DLF welcomes the National Audit Office’s proposal to change the limit for a medical assessment by a physician or other qualified primary health care personnel from the current three days to seven days. However, DLF believes that it should be a doctor who makes the medical assessment.

– We were already critical when the limit was shortened to three days, says Marina Tuutma, who also thinks that the care guarantee limit of 90 days from referral to visit to a specialized clinic should be shortened.

The current 90-day limit, she says, negatively impacts primary care work, leading to unnecessary suffering for patients, exacerbation of medical problems and higher social costs, she said.

– Unfortunately, in practice we often see that it is not the outer time limit, but the one that you have to wait for in practice. I don’t think it’s acceptable to wait that long and while the patients are waiting in line puts an extra strain on primary care.

She thinks Sweden should learn from Denmark.

– There the care guarantee is 30 days, not 90, and the Danes achieve their goals better than we do in Sweden. In Denmark, the state has a clearer role in governance, but at the same time more confidence in the profession in day-to-day care. Another important difference in Denmark is the well-developed primary care with high continuity for patients, she says.

Read also: The Netherlands Court of Audit: Attempts by the government to shorten queues are ineffective


Anna Popplewell

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