Rob Pieters is kinderoncoloog en lid van de Raad van Bestuur van het Prinses Máxima Centrum voor Kinderoncologie. Hij beschrijft dat excellence te maken heeft met specialisatie en complexiteit, waarbij samengewerkt wordt met twintig andere lokale ziekenhuizen voor de minder complexe zaken. Hij geeft aan dat je als patiënt niet terughoudend hoeft te zijn: als je geen klik voelt met een bepaalde dokter, vraag dan gewoon een andere. Excellence houdt het meest van alles in: doe alsof het je eigen kind is.

Interview in English:

I’m Rob Pieters. I’m a pediatric oncologist and one of the people behind the Princess
Maxima Centre for Pediatric Oncology. I sit on the board of this centre and I’m responsible
for care and training. Patients come here if there’s a suspicion that you have cancer as a
child. We never speak about clients but about patients. If you’re a client you would never
come to our shop. You’d look for another store. You come here if you’re suspected of having
cancer as a child. This applies to all children in the Netherlands who have cancer or who are
suspected of having cancer. We don’t have any waiting lists. The parents call, or the general
practitioner, or the referring pediatrician and then you can come in right away. We think it
doesn’t make sense to wait because why would you do something tomorrow if you can do it today? We run all the diagnostics and the complex parts of the treatment plan, and we work
with twenty “shared care” hospitals that can carry out the less complex parts of treatment so
you don’t have to travel for everything, just for the things that are needed. The “shared care”
is very different depending on each condition and treatment so each plan is unique. The
intensive or complicated procedures need to be done here with us in Utrecht and the less
complicated things can be done near where you live and that differs from treatment to
treatment. Things like check-ups or simple chemotherapy or dealing with complications of
treatments that are not very dangerous. A cancer centre of excellence – and let me limit
myself to my own field of pediatric cancer – is a centre where the expertise is pooled and you
firmly believe that you have the best centre. That sounds a bit crazy, but I mean it. If you
think another centre is better, you need to shut up shop right now. This is a place where top
expertise in the fields of care and research is combined in one place, it’s not about having
one or the other. You have to have both. Care and research need to be fully integrated and
what is extremely important, you must have the slogan: “Pretend it is your own child” and
pretending is already the wrong word. Just act as if it were your own child, because then you
are always doing your best. What is important is that you share the hospital around the
patient and not around the doctor. Let’s be honest there are a lot of nice nurses and doctors
and also a lot of good hospitals. so you’ll feel at home very quickly. Just always be honest.
We often try to say that if you don’t like me being your doctor, just say so. Because there are
a lot of doctors here. You can get another doctor. One of the disadvantages of concentrating
health care is that it’s not always easy getting a second opinion. For that you would either
have to go abroad or to one of the other doctors. You always have to be honest and just say
what you think. If you have a good relationship with your doctor this is always possible. If
you’re looking for the best centre, it’s often one of the larger centres. A large centre or a
larger centre means nothing in itself, but it’s often the case that a large center has more
expertise and more experience. That’s how it is.