Dutch news in brief, Tuesday 28 October 2008

28th October 2008, Comments 0 comments

Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.

28 October 2008

State of hospital care deteriorates
Trouw's front page features some sobering thoughts on the state of hospital care in the Netherlands. Health Minister Ab Klink said: "Patients who assume everything is going to be okay, could end up having a rude awakening," he cautions.

"We have to move from a situation of trust that is taken for granted to trust that is earned".

The paper reports that the minister is soon due to decide the fate of two hospitals which are in dire financial straits and were forced to temporarily close their operating theatres due to problems with the air quality.

Trouw goes on to warn that "hospitals that perform badly and that are threatened with closure cannot rely on the minister's protection".

Trouw goes on to devote seven pages to the issue on failing healthcare with headlines such as "Doctors fail due to lack of team spirit" and "Mergers are notorious and can be bad for the patient".

Trouw has its doubts about the theory that "a scorecard for hospitals means that those with poor marks will automatically try to do better". In fact, it turns out poor scores on certain performance indicators have not actually led to many specific projects aimed at improvement.

Part of the problem is the nature of patient feedback. Although patients are being encouraged to be "critical health consumers", it appears they are most concerned about practical issues such as waiting lists, sharing a room and hospital food while they still tend to have "blind faith" in the medical care itself.

It's not all gloom and doom, however. Trouw also points to what it calls "magnet hospitals" which have no trouble attracting personnel in these times of staff shortages, and delivers the hopeful message "A hospital that cherishes its staff has motivated nurses queuing up to work there, gives better care and earns more".

Are teachers’ strikes justified?
Dutch teachers began a series of regional strikes Monday aimed at reducing their workload. But de Volkskrant asks a number of teachers "Is the pressure really that bad?"

The answer - perhaps predictably - is a resounding ‘Yes’: "Only 20 percent say they work at a great school, and that's a small minority".

Working hours seem to be only part of the problem. The interviewees say that "in the Netherlands teachers spend more hours in the classroom, teaching very big classes" but also point to the nature of the work.

"The stress comes from constantly having to attend to a lot of small things ... in other jobs you can kick back for a few minutes and have a chat. As a teacher you only get to do that when the day is over."

"Your own freedom to manage your time is less than it used to be" says one. Another agrees "Many teachers feel that they are in a straightjacket that they can't get out of."

While the teachers may well face a long battle ahead, at least they can count on the support of AD, which editorialises "While we should never be too eager to resort to strike action, in this case it is justified."

New group of young Muslim extremists may be next terrorists
A headline in De Telegraaf warns that "The successors to the Hofstad Group are already on their way"

The Hofstad Group was a group of young Muslim extremists who ended up at the centre of the Netherlands' biggest ever terrorism trial.

Now the paper reports that, in the course of their research, sociologists from Groningen University have hit upon "a new group of radical Moroccan Muslims who could form a threat to state security".

The sociologists were able to gain access to the group as part of an anonymous study into the differences between extreme Muslims in the country's Turkish and Moroccan communities. Their findings suggest that hardline Muslims from the Turkish community are more inclined to opt for in the opportunities offered by society.

This Moroccan group is different though as they clearly see violence as a solution.

Although the group's plans are still at an early stage and are mainly theoretical at present, one researcher adds ominously: "Given our experience with these youths, we do not think they are bluffing..."

The authorities in Amsterdam are certainly taking the study seriously and plan to meet up with the researchers soon to discuss their findings.

Minister wants ‘dress’ code for police
Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst is pushing ahead with plans to stop police officers from having tattoos, piercings, religious accessories and creative haircuts on grounds that a neutral police force has more authority.

"She's not got a leg to stand on!" growls Amsterdam's "king of tattoos" Henk Schiffmacher, who is threatening to personally take the minister to court if she proceeds with her police ‘dress’ code. "Tattoos are a form of expression and are part and parcel of our freedom of speech."

The police unions agree: "It's an invasion of privacy."

A union spokesman admits that there is a health and safety aspect to a member of an arrest squad charging around with a face full of piercings but he points out that "Anyone who calls in the help of the police is not going to be bothered by a few tattoos."

[Radio Netherlands / David Doherty / Expatica]

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