How the pandemic led to more nursing influence on policy in the Netherlands

Nov 9, 2021 | Better Stories, Decision-making and politics, Netherlands

To alleviate the impacts of COVID-19 policies, many initiatives have been developed by civil society organisations – NGOs, local governments, or citizens. A team of national researchers from the RESISTIRÉ project has collected and highlighted a set of particularly relevant initiatives in 27 European countries and in Iceland, Serbia, the United Kingdom and Turkey. These Better Stories currently cover eight specific domains: gender-based violence, the labour market, the economy, gender-pay and pension gaps, gender care gaps, decision-making and politics, environmental justice, human and fundamental rights.

This Better Story was collected by: Marloes van Engen


Nurses were hit hard by the corona crisis, among others, due to a shortage of materials and over- crowded hospital wards. If the health crisis revealed that nurses are among the most important employees in a hospital, they had until then little influence or say about hospital policies. This changed at the start of the pandemic, as nurses saw the opportunity to improve their position. They advocated for more influence on hospital policies.

When crisis teams in hospitals were made at the start of the corona crisis, nurses (or nursing advisory councils) were not included. In fact, they did not even know crisis teams were created, while they are the largest occupational group in hospitals and responsible for the large share of the crisis response. Nurses, however, do not think this happened intentionally, but they simply were not immediately thought of. After lobbying, they have entered the crisis team in many hospitals.

Establishing nursing advisory councils (VAR’s) has also become more common. VAR’s provide advice on a professional basis to the management or board of directors of an organization to ensure and improve the quality of care. The VAR’s are nowadays often represented in the crisis teams within hospitals. This implies that nurses have a voice in short- and long-term policies through their advisory role

The position of nurses has formally improved. In the near future, nurses will be asked to give advice about policies in some hospitals, just like medical staff and patient councils. Thus, the corona crises gave the emancipation of nurses an impulse. Increasing decision-making for nurses can also lead to better working conditions, which should help battle the shortage of medical personnel.