GPs protest as conflict over reforms escalates

24th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

24 May 2005, AMSTERDAM — At least 1,000 GPs protested in The Hague on Tuesday on the eve of a three-day strike in a heated dispute over proposed healthcare reforms.

24 May 2005

AMSTERDAM — At least 1,000 GPs protested in The Hague on Tuesday on the eve of a three-day strike in a heated dispute over proposed healthcare reforms.

The chairman of the doctors association LHV, Bas Vos, said arbitration attempts in the conflict between doctors and Health Minister Han Hoogervorst are in vain because the minister is not open for discussions.

Hoogervorst hopes to "simply" get back to the negotiating table with doctors after the planned strikes, but a majority of MPs are urging for the appointment of an arbitrator.

Vos said only Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende or a member of the Liberal VVD could arbitrate because they are Hoogervorst's bosses.

As the government introduces a basic healthcare insurance scheme for every Dutch resident next year, doctors will be forced to negotiate with insurers for the payment of EUR 90 million in funding for surgery expenses. 

Doctors are concerned by the greater authority being afforded to insurers and claim the companies only aim to earn money from healthcare.

Family doctors are now placing their hopes on the Senate, which will debate the planned reforms at the start of June.

The Dutch patients federation NPCF claims the planned strike is illegal, but ruled out on Monday carrying through with its threatened legal action.

And on the eve of Wednesday's strike, the administrators of emergency alarm number 112 said they were not expecting a huge increase in calls.

The emergency number's capacity is very large because the alarm centre is prepared for disasters and peak periods. Moreover, the 112 number is only designed for emergencies.

"We have brought that to the attention of the public on multiple occasions," an Interior Ministry spokesman said.

However, ambulance services have been put on alert for added pressure, rostering on extra staff for call centres. But the ambulance association also said good arrangements have been made with doctors.

A large number of surgeries will close during the strike, but doctors will be available to treat seriously ill patients. The LHV also said the 112 emergency number and hospital emergency departments will be available for acute medical care.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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