The emergency care department at the Refaja hospital in the Groningen city of Stadskanaal is set to close at some point before September of 2020.
Translation by Traci White
According to RTV Noord, the planned closure is due to the hospital group struggling to recruit enough self-employed medical staff to keep the department open. Patients with non-life threatening injuries such as cuts or broken bones will still be able to be treated at Refaja. Complex and emergency care will be available in Assen, Emmen and Scheemda.
The hospital is one of three run by the Treant group: the other two are Bethesda hospital in Hoogeveen and Scheper hospital in Emmen. In February, Treant had previously announced plans to cease providing complex and emergency care in Stadskanaal and Hoogeveen. The health care group has been facing financial difficulties in recent years and has had trouble finding qualified staff: over the course of 2018, 14% of the staff at Treant hospitals left their positions.
Hospitals across the Netherlands, and in the north in particular, have faced an uphill battle of late with attracting new staff. UMCG in Groningen has offered 5,000 euros bonuses to fill key staffing positions, and Martini hospital gave staff a 500 euro bonus following a particularly demanding flu season in 2018.
Treant is in the midst of is a long-term plan to centralise care services in the north. From a healthcare perspective, there are arguments to be made both in favour and against merging certain departments and services. For emergency care, proximity is crucial, and in The Netherlands, ambulances are meant to be able to make a round trip from a patient’s home back to the nearest medical facility within 45 minutes. As hospitals consolidate some of their services, enforcing that norm will become a bigger challenge.
However, hospitals providing specialist care, including scheduled surgeries, may benefit from more centralisation: surgical departments that carry out more procedures per year tend to perform better in terms of patient outcomes.
Photo source: Wikipedia