Her parents couldn’t wait. At the beginning of November, tubes would be placed in Roos’s ears, a first step to make her better. “We were on our way to the hospital with a bag full of clothes when we heard that the operation was canceled. ‘I’m sorry, but there is no room,’ the doctors said.”
Another setback. Because, it is not the first time that Roos’s operation has been postponed. Her parents have been called several times with the announcement that it could not go ahead. “The reason there is no room continuously is because there are not enough beds available and the ICs are full,” says Lot.
Lot understands that the situation in the hospitals is dire, but is also angry. “Our anger is mainly that Roos is getting sicker. She falls away at night and gets more and more stuffy. Doctors see that too, but can’t do anything. Only as a parent to see your child so sick is terrible.” Roos’ surgery is now scheduled for December 2.
Crowds in hospitals
A growing number of Dutch hospitals are no longer able to provide so-called ‘critical plannable care’ on time. This is care that is necessary within six weeks to prevent health damage to patients.
14 hospitals report problems, last Thursday it was still 12, according to an overview of the Dutch Healthcare Authority (NZa).
Plannable care, which includes all care that can wait a while without causing permanent damage to the patient, will also be further jeopardized. 49 of the 73 hospitals are no longer able to deliver these in full.
All those operations have to be made up at some point. The fact that less regular care is provided can also be seen in the number of operating rooms that are in use: that is 29 percent lower than normal.
Jacqueline knows how much impact a delayed surgery has. Her uterus was to be removed on December 1. Finally, she thought, because she has been suffering from persistent menstrual pains and heavy bleeding for weeks. “I was hoping to go into a supermarket properly again without bleeding out,” she says.
But last week the doctors called that it was cancelled. “There were not enough beds, because too many people with corona were in the IC. And I will also be in the IC for a few days after my operation, so that was not possible.”
She was very upset. “Grrrr, I’m furious. Surgery has been postponed due to too many corona infections,” she wrote on Facebook. It wasn’t the first time Jacqueline had missed her surgery. She was supposed to have surgery on October 25, but that was canceled due to her own health. “I was in hospital at the time because of a bacteria in my intestines. I was too weak.”
Fortunately for Jacqueline, she has now been put on an emergency list. That means her surgery should be done in 6 weeks instead of 2 to 4 months. “I don’t know exactly when the surgery will take place. I will be called when they have a date.”
Internist Robin Peeters at Erasmus MC emphasizes that we must not forget that the threat of planable care has a major impact on people. “It’s really there. This morning I had a patient with a nodule in the thyroid gland. It could be cancer, but you can only find out by removing the nodule and medically assessing it.”
The operation for thyroid cancer does not have to be performed within six weeks, because this form of cancer can be treated well, says Peeters. “But that the patient is in uncertainty for so long and does not know whether there is cancer at all, is very annoying.”
Peeters emphasizes that the infections really have to come down quickly. “If you see how we are still scaling up enormously and how many corona patients are in hospital, the choices become more and more annoying. You hope that the sense of urgency permeates everywhere, but I don’t have that feeling yet.”