On Thursday, 13 October, the symposium “Are We Ready for the Future? The Tenability and Resilience of the Dutch Healthcare System” took place. This symposium was the second of two special anniversary symposia which were both dedicated to the overarching theme of “Making Healthcare Sustainable”. Whereas the symposium held in April mainly focused on the scientific angle, this symposium involved both science and policymaking.
The afternoon began with an informal lunch where attendees had the opportunity to talk to each other. Once the symposium had been opened by Prof. Maarten IJzerman and the day’s chairman, Prof. Marco Varkevisser, it was time for the parallel sessions to begin. When the attendees registered for the symposium, they were able to indicate their preference for a particular session. There was, for instance, a session dedicated to “Rising Healthcare Costs: What kind of tricky policymaking choices will we be forced to make?”, taught by Prof. Marco Varkevisser, Dr Bram Wouterse and Dr Hedwig Blommestein. The second session, entitled “Harmonising Healthcare, Wellbeing and (...) in Relation to Vulnerable Groups”, was held by Dr Jeroen van Wijngaarden, Jonathan Berg MSc and Lieke Reinhoudt-den Boer MSc. Finally, there was a session called “Access to Elderly Care Under Pressure”. This last session was the result of a collaborative effort by Dr Jitse Schuurmans, Mr. Eline Linthorst and Dr Iris Wallenburg.
After the parallel sessions, it was time for a brief interval, followed by the plenary programme. The next item on the agenda was the keynote speech given by the Minister for Health, Welfare and Sport, Dr Ernst Kuipers. He said that while the Netherlands used to be one of the top-ranked countries in terms of healthcare, this is definitely no longer the case. In many respects, the Netherlands performs worse than countries such as Norway and Sweden. Because of this, Kuipers argued in favour of collaboration between various disciplines. Our healthcare system will not be reformed, but we must ensure that collaboration becomes the norm – collaboration between institutions working in the same discipline, interdisciplinary collaboration, regional collaboration, and international collaboration, as well.
Minister Kuipers’ speech was followed by a panel discussion. ESHPM's own Dr Iris Wallenburg and Dr Hedwig Blommesteijn were on the panel, as were several speakers not affiliated with the faculty: Prof. Marcel Canoy (VU University and Pakket ZiN Advisory Committee), Anneke Westerlaken (ActiZ) and Dr Anja Schreijer (Pandemic and Disaster Preparedness Center). The panel, led by Prof. Marco Varkevisser, further discussed the question as to whether the Dutch healthcare system is future-proof, or, failing that, how it can be made future-proof.
The symposium ended, as a nod to ESHPM’s anniversary, with a retrospective by by Jan Moen and Ruud Lapré, co-founders of ESHPM (which was called the Studierichting Algemene Gezondheidszorg at the time). They shared fun stories of the School’s early days.
The symposium attracted a lot of people: almost 180 attendees, including members of the faculty, alumni and other interested parties.
Preceding the symposium, an alumni reunion was meant to take place in the morning. Due to circumstances this was cancelled. In its stead we will be organising a 'homecoming' in 2023. More information will follow via email and this website.