The Wilhelmina Children's Hospital at UMC Utrecht is a robust integrated children's hospital. The pediatric heart center has a solid and future-proof team of pediatric heart surgeons, pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists, pediatric interventional cardiologists, specialized nurses and pediatric ICU nurses, all in one location with excellent quality of care. This was also the main reason for the Princess Máxima Center to concentrate pediatric oncology care in Utrecht. In the care of children with cancer, the pediatric cardiac center is indispensable, which is why the Máxima Center states that the pediatric cardiac center in Utrecht should remain open. This center meets all the conditions set by the minister for future children's heart centers.
In the meantime, UMC Utrecht is cooperating constructively with the steps that need to be taken. These focus on the quality of pediatric cardiac care in all centers. The UMCs need not take steps that are irreversible.
What preceded this decision?
In April 2023, the minister decided to concentrate the care of patients with congenital heart defects at Erasmus MC in Rotterdam and the UMCG in Groningen. Unlike the earlier decision in December 2021 for Rotterdam and Utrecht.
The UMC Utrecht and the Princess Máxima Center cannot agree with this and are of the opinion that these decisions are unlawful. Pediatric oncology care at the Máxima Center requires the 24/7 availability of a pediatric cardiac team at UMC Utrecht. It is not possible to continue providing this care while maintaining quality if the pediatric heart team at UMC Utrecht were to disappear due to the proposed concentration of pediatric heart surgery.
We therefore objected and asked the court to suspend the concentration decisions until after the ruling in December. There was a hearing at the court in Utrecht for that purpose last Tuesday. Besides the UMC Utrecht and the Prinses Máxima Center, the LUMC and Amsterdam UMC had also asked for this ‘pause button’. This was rejected by the court. The substantive objections of the UMC Utrecht and the Prinses Máxima Centrum will be heard by the Utrecht District Court in November 2023 in the proceedings on the merits. Three judges will then consider the legality of the decisions taken. The court's ruling will thus follow at the end of this year.