The University Medical Centre Groningen will close 4 of its 29 operation rooms due to a staff shortage for the remainder of the year.
Translation by Traci White
The Groninger Internet Courant reports that the rooms will remain closed until at least the end of 2018. According to hospital spokesperson Joost Wessels, the emergency measure is necessary due to a lack of qualified staff. “We didn’t just decide to close them on a whim. There’s been a dramatic shortage for a while, but we have now reached a point where we can no longer continue functioning at the same level.”
Dagblad van het Noorden recently reported that hospitals nationwide are struggling to find and keep qualified staff. In Groningen, UMCG’s biggest challenge is in the pediatric intensive care unit, and at Martini Hospital, the waiting list for non-emergency treatment for children is up to 12 weeks long.
UMCG is currently recruiting and training more staff, including up to 25 percent more future employees for pediatrics, to fill the open positions, as well as enacting other measures to retain their current staff. Operations that do not absolutely have to be carried out at UMCG are transferred to other regional hospitals as much as possible. At Martini Hospital, a physicians assistant and two nurses are training new specialists to help out in their pediatrics department.
On 5 July, hundreds of UMCG staff members briefly protested in front of the teaching hospital in an effort to improve their contracts. RTV Noord reported at the time that the previous labour contract had expired in early 2018, and the staff and unions are still working to create a new contract that reflects the changing conditions of working as a medical professional in the Netherlands, particularly a growing elderly population. If a new contract cannot be agreed upon soon, medical staff are planning additional protests in August.