State Secretary van Ooijen is not convinced that Saba’s health care issues are solely to be blamed on ZJCN

State Secretary van Ooijen has responded to the letter of Saba’s Executive Council concerning the problems that Saba residents experience with medical referrals. In his letter, he states that he is pleased with the performance of the ZJCN organization.  The problems that the residents encounter, may well have other, local causes.
Van Ooijen writes:

I have taken note of your letter in which you express your concerns about the functioning of the Directorate of Care and Youth Caribbean Netherlands (ZJCN). You indicate that insufficient response is given to the complaints on Saba about the medical referrals.

First, I would like to stress that I think it is important for you to express your concerns. I would like to emphasize that the lines of communication of both the employees of ZJCN and the management of ZJCN have always been short and open in nature and that I attach great importance to this way of communicating that this way of communicating will continue to be the starting point in the future. For years, there has been constructive cooperation with many parties on Saba on all health themes and at almost all levels and good progress is being made. There are also intensive contacts with the ZJCN management in the field of medical referrals and since May of this year, a common agenda has been developed to improve care. In addition to Saba Cares, the Public Entity is also involved at the official level. A good example of this collaboration is the start of the pilot free referrals as of 21 November 2022. This means that the general practitioners on Saba and St. Eustatius are able to refer patients to the SMMC on Sint Maarten without prior approval from the medical advisors of ZJCN. This will speed up the process surrounding the medical referrals.

Of course, I am open to concerns about the functioning of health care on Saba and any criticism of the functioning of ZJCN.

So far this year, ZJCN has received three official complaints from Saba (two of which have been dealt with and one is pending) and three objections (one of which is unfounded and two still pending). There are also complaints to ZJCN that do not concern the ZJCN services, but for example, the care provided by Saba Cares or SMMC. Of course, they must also be taken seriously. The complaints officers of ZJCN, Saba Cares, SMMC and SEHCF on St. Eustatius have therefore made agreements since May 2022 to ensure that complaints from insured persons and patients end up in the right place. But it’s not just about the formal approach to complaints. ZJCN employees are also encouraged to have a conversation when insured persons are dissatisfied and open to it.

In my vision letter that I sent to the Second Chamber on 29 September 2022, I announced that I would have a study carried out into the state of healthcare in the Caribbean Netherlands by the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. This research is important in investigating whether, for example, system improvements are needed. I expect that your concerns will also be given a place in the context of this investigation.

In addition, I hereby invite you to provide a list of concrete complaints from patients in the short term, which I will submit to the recently established external independent complaints committee led by Frits Goedgedrag. If you need help compiling this list, ZJCN can help you with this.

Next December I will visit Saba and hope to continue the conversation with you about the improvements in healthcare in the Caribbean Netherlands and Saba in particular.

Next Wednesday, the PSG and the director of ZJCN will meet some island council members of Saba and Commissioner Bruce Zagers. They will be there in the context of Statia Day. We look forward to a good and constructive consultation.

State Secretary van Ooijen

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