Ninety percent of hospitals in the Netherlands are at risk of making a loss next year due to cost increases for personnel, energy and inflation. Friday warns against this the Dutch Association of Hospitals (NVZ).

    The NVZ bases itself on research by the Finance Ideas agency among 56 hospitals. The association calls on the Ministry of Health and also health insurers to prevent “this doomsday scenario”. NVZ chairman Ad Melkert states that the investigation has an “alarming conclusion”. “Hospitals now need all the resources to invest in the best care for the patient, good working conditions for healthcare professionals and the implementation of the recently concluded Integral Care Agreement.”

    Hospitals are currently making agreements with health insurers for the coming year. These negotiations should show how much income the hospitals can count on in 2023. The NVZ fears that the extra expenditure for energy, personnel and inflation will mean that there will be no room to invest in digitization and sustainability due to the extra expenditure on energy, personnel and inflation.

    They also ask the ministry for help, especially with the increased energy costs. Earlier this week, Minister of Health Ernst Kuipers (D66) in a letter to Parliament to the health insurers for this. An NVZ spokesperson says that hospitals now need “the maximum possible financial room” from health insurers, but fears that they will not go along with this. Moreover, what is needed differs per hospital, he says. “It makes the negotiations even more complex.”

    Last year it appeared that one fifth of the hospitals that were examined by the accountancy firm BDO were financially unhealthy. Even then, the rising demand for care and increasing staff shortages posed a threat to the sector. Costs for external personnel rose by 7.7 percent. Because of the corona support that the hospitals still received at the time, no hospitals went bankrupt.

    The NVZ does not expect any bankruptcies this year either, says a spokesman. “Hospitals have real estate and therefore equity.” NVZ does expect hospitals to be unable to meet agreements with health insurers. “Hospitals cannot raise the prices of treatments. Companies do.”

    This year’s inflation comes on top of already existing problems – including rising prices for energy, which hospitals consume relatively heavily. Hospitals are spending 175 percent more on this than last year, according to the NVZ spokesperson. The message is significant for the state of healthcare: the pressure is palpable throughout the sector. Care is becoming scarce and healthcare providers are walking on their gums.