European differences in the coronavirus approach

Minister Hugo de Jonge (VWS) has drawn the attention of the Lower House to the international comparison of corona policy with the help of knowledge organisation, Vilans. He did this using the “lessons-learned” process, in which the government, on behalf of Parliament, obtains broad policy advice on how to tackle the corona crisis from various experts with diverse backgrounds.

With the ‘lessons-learned’ process, the government not only wants to prevent a second wave, but also, should it come, be prepared for it. The aim is to also learn lessons about measures for people with disabilities or vulnerable health. In that context, Vilans has mapped out the government measures from a number of European countries aimed at the spread of the coronavirus and the consequences for long-term care.

Comparison of European countries

A chronological overview shows the measures introduced by Belgium (especially Flanders), Denmark, Germany (especially North Rhine-Westphalia), France, the United Kingdom (especially England), Sweden and the Netherlands since March 2020. For example, how did these countries deal with visiting arrangements, testing policy, personal protective equipment, compensation measures for organisations, and monitoring infected and deceased clients?

Different policies

Hugo de Jonge writes in the letter to Parliament dated 1 September, ‘In order to learn from other countries about long-term care, Vilans has kept a record of the measures other countries are taking. Vilans concludes that governments in northwestern Europe pursued fairly similar policies early in the outbreak. For example, most countries decided on visiting restrictions in nursing homes at about the same time. As the crisis deepened and more knowledge became available, Vilans sees more international divergence in policy. This is in line with the current Dutch policy on long-term care, which provides scope for and knowledge about customisation and proportionate policy in this phase of the crisis.’

Ongoing research

Vilans will continue to monitor the corona policy in northwestern Europe in the coming months. Vilans advisor Else Stapersma, ‘In the coming months, Vilans will continue to monitor the corona policy in the eight countries and publish new timelines. We invite anyone with knowledge of the developments in any of these countries to share it with us, correct us if necessary, and join the community we are building. We hope that this will inspire policymakers, scientists, but especially people in daily healthcare practice to make the right choices in these complicated times.’

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