Making choices for a future-proof Dutch healthcare

How can we ensure that Dutch healthcare remains future-proof? Can the system still cope with the growing demand for care? Do we have enough staff? Will the Dutch population continue to show solidarity necessary to guarantee high quality and access to care? The report 'Sustainable healthcare, a matter of choice. People, resources and public support' answers these questions. In September 2021, the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) presented the report to the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport. The WRR is now publishing an English summary. The issue is internationally relevant. The Netherlands is certainly not the only country where these questions arise: similar problems are at play in all Western countries.

Enlarge image Photo cover summary Sustainable healthcare a matter of choice
Image: ©WRR

Growing care (demand)

In general, Dutch healthcare performs well, but there are major bottlenecks in parts of the system. To guarantee quality and accessibility, care must be sustainable in terms of financial means, personnel and public support. However, these three dimensions of sustainability are under increasing pressure due to developments such as an aging population, the emergence of new healthcare technology and an increase in the number of chronically ill people. In the report, the WRR concludes that – in order to limit the growth of healthcare – we need to make better choices about where our priorities lie in healthcare.

Making sharper choices

The WRR recommends an approach along three pillars. Firstly, focus on public support, for instance by establishing a citizens' forum on choices in healthcare. Secondly, politicians must take up their responsibility for the sustainability of care by actively setting priorities. That means focusing on sectors where quality and accessibility are substandardand on prevention. Thirdly, more than is currently the case, for all care sectors the demarcation of collectively organized care must be clearly defined.

The WRR is currently working on an integral English translation of the report. This publication is expected to be published in the Springer series Research for Policy in the spring of 2023.

About the project ‘Sustainable Health Care’

People generally describe good health as one of the most important conditions for a good life. Healthcare contributes to an ever-rising life expectancy, and helps us to stay active and productive. Accessible, high-quality care is thus of great importance for society. But our healthcare system is under increasing pressure. An ageing society, chronic disorders, stress and technological developments lead to an ever increasing demand for care, driving rapidly rising expenditure and ever increasing pressure on professionals and informal caregivers. In 2018, the ministers of Finance and of Medical Care and Sport have requested the WRR to prepare a comprehensive advice on the long-term sustainability of healthcare. The project examines long-term sustainability in terms of expenditure, labour market and public support.