Working in the healthcare sector
1.3 million people work in the healthcare and social welfare sector in the Netherlands. Over the next 15 to 20 years over 400,000 extra staff will be needed – if we want to continue to provide care in the same way – to cope with the growing number of elderly people requiring care.
The staff shortage in the healthcare sector is set to increase, due in large part to demographic trends. The declining birth rate is contributing to the problem, as there are fewer young people available to work in the healthcare sector. The present healthcare workforce is ageing, and many are retiring. The government is responding by taking action on various fronts.
To ensure that enough people work in health care in the future, the government, social partners and healthcare institutions are joining
- forces on a number of measures:
- staff retention and recruitment;
- more productivity and labour-saving innovations;
- curbing the demand for care;
- increased funding for extra staff.
Staff retention and recruitment
The government and social partners hope to limit the staff shortage in the healthcare sector. Naturally, one key focus of attention is to train sufficient competent staff, but efforts are also being made to make jobs in the sector more attractive by, for example, curbing aggression and violence against healthcare workers.
- Training sufficient competent staff
- Deploying care providers more efficiently.
A specialist nurse practitioner may now, for example, take over certain tasks from doctors, such as administering injections and prescribing medication. This leaves the doctor free to concentrate on other duties. This reallocation of tasks also gives care providers greater responsibility and better career prospects, making it more attractive for them to remain in the sector.
- Curbing aggression and violence
Over the past few years individual employers, social partners and the government have undertaken initiatives designed to reduce aggression and violence against care workers. One important focus of attention is legal protection of staff who perform a public duty. Anyone arrested for violence against staff performing a public duty will be eligible for ‘fast-track justice’.
Collaboration between regions on recruitment and retention of staff
There are differences in job and training opportunities between regions. Local authorities, social partners and healthcare institutions work together on a regional basis to improve recruitment and retention of staff and train adequate numbers of healthcare workers.
More productivity and labour-saving innovations
More work with the same number of staff. There are several ways of achieving this:
- Smarter organisation. Examples include:
-by allocating tasks differently, with the right person in the right place;
-use of special equipment;
- By simplifying regulations and therefore reducing the administrative burden. If care providers have less paperwork to do they can spend more time on clients. Combined with smart organisation, this allows care providers to focus on what they are there for: caring for patients.
Curbing the demand for care
In the near future, the growth in the demand for care will outstrip the growth in the number of care workers. To curb the demand for care over the next few years, patients will be encouraged to become more self-sufficient. E-health is one example. People with chronic conditions can organise certain aspects of their treatment at home, online.
Increasing use will also be made of informal carers and volunteers. The government is making €860 million a year available to raise standards of care and the quality of work in the long-term care sector. This money will allow an extra 12,000 staff to be taken on. Funding will also be made available to train existing staff.