Healthcare Quality, Complaints and Disputes Act (WKKGZ)
The government wants to make sure all patients receive good-quality care. What good-quality care means is laid down in the Healthcare Quality, Complaints and Disputes Act (WKKGZ). The law also says what people can do if they have a complaint about the care they have received. The act came into effect on 1 January 2016.
Why do we need the Healthcare Quality, Complaints and Disputes Act?
People are not always satisfied with the way care providers deal with their complaints. It takes care providers a long time to deal with a complaint and even then, their approach is impersonal. People want to feel heard and they don’t want anyone else to have the same experience in the future.
Care providers can learn from complaints and incidents involving patients. The goal of the new act is to create openness about complaints and incidents and to learn from them. That way, everyone can play a role in improving healthcare.
The new act replaces both the Care Institutions (Quality) Act and the Right to Complain (Care Sector) Act.
What does the Healthcare Quality, Complaints and Disputes Act say?
The act provides for:
Better, faster resolution of complaints
By 1 January 2017 at the latest all care providers must have a complaints officer to whom people can go if they have a complaint. It usually works best if people talk about their complaint with their care provider. The complaints officer can get that dialogue going. If talking about it does not solve the problem, people can take their complaint to an independent complaints commission. For most people it will be easier to go to the commission than to the courts. The commission's decision on the complaint is binding for both parties. The complaints commission can also award damages.
Care workers can report incidents without fear of reprisal
Care providers must introduce an internal work procedure by 1 July 2016 at the latest, which will enable employees to report lack of due care and incidents involving patient safety without fear of reprisal. Care professionals should discuss these and learn from each other's experiences. This will improve the quality of healthcare.
Patients' right to information strengthened
Under the new law, patients are entitled to be properly informed if something goes wrong with the care they receive. Like a mistake made during surgery. The care provider must discuss mistakes like this with the patient and record the incident in the patient's medical record. Patients are also entitled to information about the quality of the care provided if they request it.
Extension of care providers' reporting obligation
From now on, care providers must report to the Healthcare Inspectorate (in Dutch) all forms of violence in healthcare relationships. They must also tell the Inspectorate if a care professional is dismissed due to very poor job performance.
Care providers can make complaints procedures and quality systems that suit their individual organisations. However, there are certain rules they must follow. For a summary of these rules, go to: What must care providers do to ensure compliance with the Healthcare Qualit Complaints and Disputes Act (in Dutch)
What care providers must comply with the WKKGZ?
The Healthcare Quality, Complaints and Disputes Act applies to all care providers, from large institutions like care homes and hospitals to independent care professionals like GPs and physiotherapists. The Act also applies to providers of alternative medicine and cosmetic treatments. This makes it easier for the Healthcare Inspectorate to prevent abuses in these sectors.
The Act does not apply to care for which municipalities are responsible, such as home help and youth care.
When did the WKKGZ come into effect?
The Healthcare Quality, Complaints and Disputes Act (in Dutch) came into effect on 1 January 2016. There is a transitional period for some parts of the act, to give care providers time to make the necessary arrangements. Care providers:
- must have procedures in place by 1 July 2016 for internal reporting of lack of due care and incidents involving patient safety;
- must ensure that their complaints system complies with the new act and link up with an accredited complaints commission, by 1 January 2017 at the latest;
- must have signed care quality agreements with all care professionals that work for them, from 1 January 2017. The agreements set care quality standards that care professionals must meet. That way, care providers can guarantee the quality of care and ensure that complaints are dealt with properly. An employment contract will suffice for salaried employees.
The other sections of the act came into effect on 1 January 2016. For a summary of all the measures that care providers must take, go to: What must care providers do to ensure compliance with the Healthcare Quality Complaints and Disputes Act (in Dutch).