House demands NZa suspend controversial mental health care project – end of database appears near

The Dutch Health Authority (NZa) would have preferred to quietly collect detailed data from 800,000 mental health patients. Data about your mental problems, depression, disorders, addictions, but also about your sexual desires. Mental health professionals who do not provide this data could be fined, the health system regulator threatened in 2022. But things turned out differently.

Because the project aroused a lot of resistance and was finally delayed. And now a large majority of the House of Representatives has voted against this New Zealand database of mental health patients with a motion. All data already collected must be destroyed and the NZa cannot ask doctors for patient data again. Although outgoing Minister Helder, who has always supported the NZa, advised against this motion last week, the end of the NZa database appears to be near. The NSC is the first signatory of the motion, the PVV and the BBB voted in favor. And these are three of the four coalition parties in the fledgling Schoof cabinet. Other supporters were GroenLinks/PvdA, SP, Denk and PvdD.

Objections

The motion reiterates objections previously expressed by a group of critical psychiatrists and psychologists. They feared for their patients’ privacy and the erosion of professional secrecy and joined together in the Trust in Mental Health Care action group. Together with several clients he launched a lawsuit against the NZa, which is still ongoing. Research by patient organization MIND also shows that three quarters of mental health patients are completely unaware that their highly privacy-sensitive data needs to be shared with New Zealand. Nor do they have the official right to refuse to share it. Because the NZa never gave this much publicity.

There were also initial doubts about whether NZa’s goal of better predicting future mental health care demand and healthcare costs is actually achievable with its database. “I have extensively studied similar projects in Britain and New Zealand, but it turned out that the health costs could not be predicted,” says NSC MP Agnes Joseph. She talks about a “New Zealand hobby project that violates privacy.” “So why would you want this?”

Region

If you still want to know something about future demand for healthcare, use “aggregate data,” says Joseph. His motion allows the NZa to: data that cannot be traced back to individual people, but can map the need for mental health care in a specific area, based, for example, on age, income and population composition population.

That result may be less precise than New Zealand’s ideal, but with so much resistance it seems unattainable anyway. After all, it is naive to only expect reliable data from professionals or critically ill patients. In any case, a greater understanding of the need for mental health care by region is in line with promising experiments in mental health care, where care is offered in a less compartmentalized manner and can be purchased by health insurers by region.

Also read:

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