Proton clinic now at half capacity
The proton clinic Holland PTC, which started operating on the Delft campus in November 2018, will only reach half capacity this year. HPTC expects to have treated 300 patients by the end of 2021, while the total capacity is 600. The other two proton clinics, in Groningen and Maastricht, have not yet reached their maximum capacity either. They expect to reach 80 percent (480 patients treated) and 60 percent (240 patients treated) respectively in 2021. This is stated in a joint response (in Dutch) by the three proton centres to a critical article (in Dutch) in the Dutch Journal of Medicine.
The article describes, among other things, the lobbying by universities and academic hospitals for the establishment of the clinics. The hesitant decision-making process at the Ministry of Public Health is also discussed in detail, as is the role of the insurance companies. In addition, investigative journalism collective The Investigative Desk adds the initial doubts about the usefulness of proton radiation to the disappointing number of patients now.
However, the proton centres do not want to hear about disappointing figures, they write in their response. According to them, a start-up period of three to five years, which is supposed to be part of new, complex technologies, has been taken into account. In addition, since 2018, more types of tumours have gradually been approved for this therapy and the method for determining the suitability of specific patients is said to be complicated. Travel distance also plays a role in referring patients, the centres claim, with the corona pandemic slowing things down. The three expect to be operating at maximum capacity in three years’ time. (SB)