Minister moves to head off GP strike
12 May 2005, AMSTERDAM — Around 7,000 family doctors in the Netherlands are to receive a letter from Health Minister Hans Hoogervorst next week as part of an effort to stop a strike set to begin later this month.
12 May 2005
AMSTERDAM — Around 7,000 family doctors in the Netherlands are to receive a letter from Health Minister Hans Hoogervorst next week as part of an effort to stop a strike set to begin later this month.
The Minister will use the letter to outline his interpretation of the negotiations in the last few months about the radical overhaul of the healthcare system. Hoogervorst will argue that he has made significant concessions to doctors.
Currently on a working visit to China, the minister emphasised he had deliberately chosen to by-pass the national association of general practitioners (LHV).
The organisation's national action committee has announced strike action in protest at the new policies will begin on 25 May and run for an unspecified period of time.
The LHV's local action committees will decide individually how to ensure patients with serious conditions receive treatment during the strike. The strike committees have yet to announce the details of the strike and how it will impact in the general public.
Hoogervorst has been locked in dispute for monthsd with the doctors about the introduction of a new renumeration system that is to come into operation next year.
Daily newspaper 'De Volkskrant' reported on Thursday that the conflict centres on Hoogervorst's plans to cut costs by EUR 20,000 annually per practice.
Hoogervorst said from China that he is under the impression far from all doctors support the confrontational approach taken by LHV chairman Bas Vos.
At the same time, Hoogervorst indicated he has little interest in returning to the negotiation table in relation to the renumeration policy. He said the doctors' demands would require a "considerable increase" in the budget for family doctors. "I don't have money for that," the minister said during an interview with Radio 1.
Hoogervorst said that he had made concessions three times after agreement in principle had been reached between him, the health insurers and an LHV delegation. "I think I have been very reasonable. I haven't economised a cent on family doctors. Actually they are getting an additional EUR 20 million, something that can't be said for anyone else in the healthcare system," he said.
Brushing off suggestions by the LHV that he should resign, Hoogervorst fired back: "I remember when I was a junior minister at Social Affairs, Lodewijk de Waal of the FNV union also suggested I should step down. Later I was appointed Finance Minister — so that it didn't work either".
Hoogervorst needs to drive through the chances on doctors' payments as part of the new system of healthcare insurance due to be launched next year.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]
Subject: Dutch news