In 2023, the Netherlands will need dozens of additional ambulances to properly meet the demand for ambulance care. RIVM has calculated that a total of 692 ambulances will be needed during daytime hours on working days. This represents an increase of 40 ambulances compared to 2022. A significant increase is also expected for Saturdays (+40) and Sundays (+35).

RIVM also calculated how many 8-hour ambulance shifts will be needed in 2023. It calculated 10,104 shifts for the whole of the Netherlands for an entire week. This represents a rise of 666 compared to 2022.

Longer response times

Researchers suggest this is in part due to ambulances taking longer to reach their destination. This is because they are not able to drive as fast on many roads. Recent years have also seen an increase in the number of ambulance requests made by the general public. 

More ambulance stations required 

According to the calculations, the longer ambulance driving times also mean that 20 extra ambulance stations will be needed in 2023. It is important to note that some of these ambulance stations will have to be located in relatively sparsely populated areas, where there is a relatively lower demand for ambulance care. This is partly because these locations must be evenly distributed across the country. The question is whether the addition of these stations is feasible in view of budgetary and staff shortages.

About the study 

RIVM calculates the number of ambulances in the Netherlands using the ‘reference framework for the distribution and availability of ambulance care’. This model is based on a number of key principles for Dutch ambulance care. One of these concerns the response time within which an ambulance must arrive on site after a call has come in. The model estimates the required number of ambulances based on the number of ambulance rides and their duration in the previous year. 

RIVM carried out this calculation on behalf of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. The Ministry, Ambulancezorg Nederland (AZN) and the umbrella organisation for health insurers in the Netherlands, Zorgverzekeraars Nederland (ZN), have adopted this recommendation. The Dutch Healthcare Authority (Nederlandse Zorgautoriteit, NZa) uses the results in its own calculation model to determine regional healthcare procurement budgets.