Dagblad van het Noorden writes that the report found that closing UMCG’s facilities would have “direct or indirect consequences for providing high-quality specialist care in the region.”
The report said that acute care for adults would be impacted, in addition to the quality of care for children.
The report was commissioned by health minister Ernst Kuipers, after an unexpected announcement in December 2021 that paediatric heart surgery facilities would be concentrated at two hospitals in Rotterdam and Utrecht.
UMCG in Groningen, VUMC in Amsterdam and LUMC in Leiden were mentioned at the time as locations where complex surgery for children with heart defects would no longer be carried out.
Petition and protest
Following a massive petition with hundreds of thousands of signatures and a torch-lit protest in Groningen, Minister Kuipers notified the Dutch parliament that he would ask the NZa to investigate what the consequences would be if the department in Groningen, which serves patients from across the north and east of the country, were to close.
The analysis looked into the effects on patients, health care professionals and medical facilities if interventionist care (such as heart catherisations and operations) for congenital heart defects was no longer available in certain hospitals.
NZa concluded more broadly that only concentrating this kind of specialist care for children with congenital heart defects would have far-reaching consequences in the Netherlands.
The report was originally expected to be completed by summer of 2022, but the impact analysis was ultimately released on 6 December. A final decision on the future of the paediatric heart departments in the Netherlands should be made in early 2023.