Dutch State Secretary of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports Paul Blokhuis confirmed on Tuesday that the Health Insurance Office ZVK in Saba will be granted more authority in the area of medical referrals.
A number of tasks involving providing logistical services and information will soon be transferred to the ZVK office in Saba, Blokhuis announced in a letter to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament.
The ZVK office in Saba will be taking care of arranging the airline tickets and stays for patients and the persons who accompany them when they are referred to medical specialists and hospitals in Dutch St. Maarten, French St. Martin, Guadeloupe, Curaçao, Aruba, Bonaire and Colombia.
The office will also handle contact with clients, provide information before and after medical referrals, and provide more extensive information to the Saba people about the rights and obligations of patients and the insured.
It was further agreed that ZVK will update the Saba Island Council periodically about policy plans and developments that may have a direct influence on ZVK’s service to the Saba people. Another meeting is planned for June 20.
A town-hall meeting will be held in Saba in the week of July 8, at which the people will be informed about the ZVK services and will be able to ask questions. A similar town-hall meeting will be held in St. Eustatius in the near future.
Blokhuis plans to reorganise the ZVK office in Statia as well, so it can provide better service to patients who need to go off-island for medical treatment and to make it easier for people to file a complaint.
He promised to keep in touch with the public entity Saba to work on long-term improvement of the logistical aspects of medical referrals. Good communication with the Saba government is important, as is properly informing patients and the referring health care entities, he said.
Blokhuis’ letter was the result of a request by the Second Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations for a reaction to Saba Island Council Member Hemmie van Xanten’s and former St. Eustatius Island Council Member Koos Sneek’s statements about ZVK’s functioning.
According to Van Xanten and Sneek, the ZVK office in Bonaire does not treat patients correctly, there are many logistical issues and there is a general lack of information. Both Van Xanten and Sneek requested the transfer of logistics of medical referrals to Saba.
About Van Xanten’s and Sneek’s statements, Blokhuis said: “These statements have made clear to me that the consultations with the public entity Saba have not yet resulted in an improvement in communication and providing service to the Saba patients. That is why short-term and long-term measures are needed to structurally improve the provision of service and communication regarding medical referrals.”
Saba Commissioner of Public Health Rolando Wilson brought up the matter of the ZVK and the problems that Saba patients have been facing when he met with Blokhuis in The Hague last week. Blokhuis received a list of complaints and recommendations. This same document has also been presented to the Second Chamber and the Council of State. Wilson and Blokhuis also talked about the pilot project for Saba.
The Daily Herald.