Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

The law of supply and demand in hospitals

We are headed for a Code Black scenario in the Netherlands, in which normal healthcare (eg, cancer patients) is minimized or even turned down in favour of corona patients. The blame game is about the demand for hospital beds (eg, unvaccinated people). Rarely, the supply side is mentioned in this blame game.

Please take a look at this diagram that I prepared for this blog. It uses the Netherlands as an example.

Unlike electricity grids, healthcare capacity is not based on peak demand. One might even argue that healthcare capacity is based on overly optimistic scenarios, following several factors like: (1) increased life expectancy (a.k.a. longevity), (2) declining major diseases, and (3) improved healthcare techniques.

Any large scale disaster (eg, in the Rotterdam heavy industry area) would (probably) jeopardize (Dutch) healthcare capacity. By definition, any pandemic would require excess healthcare capacity. Some people have been warning for such a disaster as pandemics appear to happen every 100 years (eg, 2015 Ted Talk).

Nevertheless, the Netherlands (and probably many other countries) has been closing hospitals for more than a decade because these were considered as “inefficient”. Senior experienced hospital staff received early retirement benefits and disappeared from the labour pool and were not requested to return during Covid-19.

It’s hard to separate the drive for cost efficiency in healthcare from the liberal Dutch governments during that period. Until now, no noticeable effort has been undertaken to increase structural healthcare capacity (ie, supply).

Considering that global population growth has been exploding since about 1950, the world should expect pandemics on a more frequent basis. Also see my related blogs: Viruses – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger (2015) and Civilizations before 4,000 BC and Black Death (2017).

Considering the above, peak capacity in healthcare may be set at 5% symptomatic virus carriers in any population. Timing (eg, duration, occurrence) would allow for a reduced simultaneous peak demand. Nevertheless, even a 1% peak demand would imply massive investments right now in any healthcare system, and at the expense of politically correct future investments (eg, energy transition, climate change).

Politicians, please get your priorities straight!

Money (1973) by Pink Floyd
artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.

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