Health care minister Ernst Kuipers will take a decision early next year about the future of pediatric heart surgery in the Netherlands. It will then become clear whether this highly specialized care still has a future at the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG).

    There are four university medical centers in the Netherlands, where children (and adults) with a congenital heart defect are operated on. In addition to the UMCG, these are the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Leiden University Medical Center and the UMC Utrecht. Many Drenthe children with heart problems are dependent on treatments from the department in Groningen.

    According to Kuipers, the knowledge and expertise for pediatric heart surgery is currently too fragmented and that entails “serious risks for the quality and continuity of this care”. The minister commissioned the Dutch Healthcare Authority to investigate the consequences of the disappearance of pediatric heart surgery in the centers where these specialist operations are still performed.

    Kuipers informs the House of Representatives in a letter that he will receive this so-called impact analysis on 6 December. “I want to use December to speak with patient organizations involved, the administrators of university medical centers and the various scientific associations of healthcare professionals involved,” says Kuipers. “I intend to make a final decision in early 2023 on the concentration of this form of care.”