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Cabinet reviewing compulsory treatment in health neglect cases

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

THE HAGUE Junior minister for Public Health, Jet Bussemaker (Labour), wants to grant care givers the authority to intervene in the lives of people who for a number of reasons fail to look after themselves. The minister is particularly concerned about people who suffer from failing mental health, mental handicaps and dementia. She wants caregivers to be able to intervene by ensuring that such people, for example, receive their medication or a bath. Currently, medical staff has such authority only in public health institutions or when someone is a danger to him or herself. Justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin, a Christian Democrat, is not yet convinced of the need for a change in the law. Caregivers should not be able to compel people just because they fail to properly motivate them. An experimental project in Schiedam has, guided by hotel industry consultants, cut the number of compulsory care cases in half by welcoming such difficult patients as guests with a cup of coffee. The Balkenende-cabinet is still considering the matter.