The Chamber's health commission discussed ways of improving healthcare in northern Luxembourg on Monday, focusing particularly on the much-lamented absence of a paediatric emergency unit.

The state and offer of healthcare in the north of the Grand Duchy repeatedly made waves last year. After the maternity hospital in Ettelbruck was forced to close for two months in 2022, a father launched a successful public petition advocating for a 24/7 maternity hospital, including a paediatric emergency unit, in northern Luxembourg.

On Monday, the Chamber's health commission continued discussing this issue, but conclusions appear rather vague.

A viable solution according to the government coalition

What seems clear is that no paediatric emergency unit will come to the Ettelbruck hospital in the foreseeable future. For now, the local maternity hospital is open again and birth-related emergencies can be treated in Nordstad. However, older children still need to go to Luxembourg City in case of an emergency.

MP Mars di Bartolomeo, president of the health commission, expressed satisfaction over the current solution. The MP from the Luxembourg Socialist Workers' Party (LSAP) explained that emergencies in the maternity hospital are treated by an anaesthetist with advanced training in neonatology and that further assistance is provided by the CHL neonatology via remote communication.

The Greens' MP Josée Lorsché argued that the current solution is the most viable option in light of the underlying problem, namely a shortage of doctors in Luxembourg. She therefore proposed to reinforce medical centres so that fewer people have to rely on emergency units.

MP Gilles Baum from the Democratic Party (DP) agreed with his coalition partner and stressed the importance of making Luxembourg's healthcare sector more attractive to young students.

Opposition parties express doubts

Opposition parties showed themselves less satisfied after the meeting.

The Christian Social People's Party (CSV) praised the fact that the maternity hospital is up and running again, but argued that the bar is too low. MP Martine Hansen described the conclusions from the commission as disappointing and stated that the session consisted more of an appraisal than a new solution: "I think that the Minister [of Health] is not really aware of the problem surrounding the paediatric emergency unit."

MP Nathalie Oberweis from The Left expressed similar doubts that there is a will to enact long-term solutions, particularly since government officials used figures to underline that there is no need for change at present.

The Alternative Democratic Reform Party (ADR) agreed with the Green's idea of strengthening medical centres as government figures showed that two thirds of emergencies could have been treated in these facilities.

The Pirate's MP Marc Goergen meanwhile argued that people cannot be convinced with empty promises of advanced training and new study programmes. He therefore underlined the importance of increasing the wages of hospital staff.

Nevertheless, it appears that the status quo will continue and that paediatric emergencies will still have to be treated in the capital for the time being.