Number of GP referrals continues to fall, one in four referrals ‘misses’ | NOW


The number of referrals from general practitioners to hospitals and specialist care fell by more than a quarter last week compared to the same period a year earlier, care platform ZorgDomein reports Thursday. Figures from the last month show that the number of referrals has started to decline since the corona measures package at the end of September.

At the time, it was announced that catering establishments should close their doors earlier and the urgent advice was followed to wear a mouth mask in public indoor spaces, such as schools and museums.

Between 12 and 18 October there were more than 130,000 referrals, 30,000 fewer than in the same period one year earlier. In addition, based on data from previous years, doctors had expected an increase in the number of referrals.

At the beginning of September there were even more referrals than last year and only a few thousand fewer than the expected number. In mid-September, 10,000 referrals were ‘missing’ and by the end of September this had increased to 20,000. This decline continued in October, which means that “one in four referrals do not take place,” says ZorgDomein.

Number of GP referrals 12 – 18 October:

  • Number of references: 130,188
  • Initially expected number: 173,833
  • Number last year: 160,215

More than a million fewer referrals than expected

Since the start of the corona pandemic, GPs have made nearly 1.2 million fewer referrals than initially expected. This is partly because regular care is being scaled down, but also because some Dutch people prefer to avoid the hospital during the corona pandemic, as it turned out during the first corona wave.

The alarm bells went off last week at the Dutch Association of Emergency Physicians (NVSHA) and the Dutch Healthcare Authority (NZa). Both parties warned that after the corona crisis, regular care must be gradually resumed to prevent overload.

In addition, the capacity for corona patients in intensive care must be permanently taken into account and sufficient protective equipment must remain available.

Patients with health complaints are called upon to “just” see their GP. “Certainly in these times of difference in scale-up between hospitals, it is important that all available capacity is optimally used and distributed fairly,” said NZa chairman Marian Kaljouw earlier.

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