RTL Nieuws investigated a number of healthcare directors with a dubious past and presented their cases to several experts. Professor Wim Groot: “If people don’t learn from their mistakes and this is also based on financial gain, then it should be possible to keep these people out of care.”
1. Lost trust, new company nonetheless
Suicide of a client, kidnapping of an employee, incompetent staff and little willingness to learn from mistakes. After a series of incidents and inspection reports, the municipality of Nijmegen decided to terminate the contract with home care institution Humazorg in 2020.
“The supervisor is no longer confident that things will change permanently under this director,” the municipality wrote to the director. Humazorg disappeared from the care stage, but the director did not. In February 2021, it started a new healthcare institution with two other directors: Zorggroep Oranje.
Before the first client came into care at Zorggroep Oranje, the company had already received 20,000 euros in subsidy. In one of the applications, the company already states that it has clients. The company also unsuccessfully knocked on the door of health insurer VGZ for a contract. “Providers are only eligible for an agreement if they are of irreproachable behavior,” says a spokesperson for VGZ.
Zorggroep Oranje knows how to bring in clients through another route. When the Health and Youth Care Inspectorate comes to have a look in October 2021, it is found that the new company also provides care by staff who do not have the correct papers. The Inspectorate does state that it is confident that the care provider will further improve the conditions for good and safe care.
According to Wim Groot, professor of health economics, there appears to be recurring behavior, a reason to exclude the company from healthcare. Associate professor of health law André den Exter argues for more intensive supervision. “Given the driver’s past, perhaps a permit subject to conditions would be better, if possible, with the driver receiving special attention from the inspectorate.”
Response Orange care group
In a response, Zorggroep Oranje says that the company is not managed in the same way as Humazorg and that it wants to provide good and high-quality care where the well-being and safety of clients always come first. Zorggroep Oranje says it strives to bind qualified employees by offering training and internships. According to the company, the two grants requested have not been used and will be refunded.
2. After ‘pyramid scheme’ care as ‘money machine’
Buying a studio as a student, with the approval of the bank and without having to spend tons of money on it every month. It sounds too good to be true. And that also became apparent when one of the companies behind Koopstudio Noord-Nederland went bankrupt. The victims spoke of a kind of pyramid scheme. The driving force behind it was in court in 2012.
According to the judge, the entrepreneur was liable for damage suffered by a number of victims. He had not sufficiently informed the buyers of the risks of the project.
In 2018, the same entrepreneur sought refuge in healthcare. In Heerenveen he founded youth care institution Spatieplus, with which he concluded a care contract with Social Domain Fryslân. The annual reports for 2019 and 2020 show that this is not doing him any harm. In those two years, in addition to more than 200,000 euros in salary, he also received 550,000 euros in dividend through his holding company. All health care money.
Accountancy professor Jeroen Suijs: “The company seems to be a money machine for the driver. 20 percent of the turnover seems to disappear into his private account.” Professor of health economics Wim Groot: “Given the history, this institution should never have been contracted. This seems to me to be sufficient reason to immediately terminate the contract that Social Domain Fryslân has with this institution.”
RTL Nieuws has contacted the director of Spatieplus several times. The director says about a management fee of 13,500 euros per month that, in addition to the management fee, also consists of other fees that are not part of the salary of the management. Despite repeated attempts, no response was received to additional questions about the director’s past and the substantial dividend payments.
Social Domain Fryslân says it was not aware of the past of the director of Spatieplus. There has been a discussion about the high dividend payment in 2019, but that has had no consequences, a spokesperson said. Partly on the basis of the facts that have now emerged, Social Domain Fryslân says it will again enter into discussions with the entrepreneur.
3. Generous compensation for care driver in cell
While the healthcare money is pouring in at Zorg en Research Enschede, one of the two founders is serving a prison sentence in 2020 that was imposed on him in 2015 for illegal trade in fireworks. In 2009 he had already been sentenced to community service for enthusing people to invest in dubious investment products.
The driver’s past did not prevent the Ministry of Justice and Security from concluding a two-year contract with Care and Research in 2019 for care to ex-prisoners. That contract made the cash register ring in Enschede. For example, the two directors together received 270,000 euros in wages. In addition, an amount of 400,000 euros in private recordings is included in the 2020 annual accounts.
Making money as quickly as possible is the credo, former employees who wish to remain anonymous told RTL Nieuws. According to them, good care is secondary to this. According to the former employees, nothing was done with their complaints about unsafe situations or dirty conditions. The probation service also raised the alarm about limited care in 2020, the Twentsche Courant Tubantia reported earlier.
In 2020, the year he served his prison sentence, the founder of Zorg en Research disappeared from the board and he started working as a team leader. His wife remained one of the partners. In 2020, the municipality of Enschede decided to terminate the contract with Zorg en Research. The Custodial Institutions Service is currently investigating the care provided and has not extended the expiring contract for care to ex-prisoners in 2021. Health insurer Menzis is also investigating signals of illegality.
“All risk indicators are present here,” says associate professor of health law André den Exter. Accountancy professor Jeroen Suijs calls profit margins of more than ten percent of the turnover on top of the wages generous. “You can ask yourself whether good care is being provided.” Minister for Legal Protection Franc Weerwind also called the profit and salary payments at Zorg en Research ‘high’ and ‘unusual’.
Response Care and Research
RTL Nieuws asked the former director for a response via Zorg en Research Enschede. That response came from the current board. This indicates that the prison sentence and community service are separate from the work in the care of the former driver. The company also states that the director has received an annual Certificate of Good Conduct since 2014.
The company acknowledges the win rates but disputes that they are high. “The mere fact that more than 10 percent profit has been made does not mean that good care has not been provided. It means that care has been provided efficiently.”
The current directors of Zorg en Research say they have never had any complaints from employees. “That the focus of the directors of Care and Research is on ‘earning a lot of money as quickly as possible’ instead of on providing care is not recognized and is strongly disputed.”