In July 2019, Bruno Bruins, Minister of Medical Care and Sport, described to the House of Representatives how he envisaged the role of the umcs in the healthcare sector. "It is important for the umcs to focus on the tasks for which they provide real added value," said he.

The umcs fulfil three public functions: they provide complex care, conduct scientific research and train the healthcare professionals of the future. These tasks amplify each other, whether regionally, nationally or internationally. That is the strength of the umcs and makes their position special.

Within the NFU the umcs form a partnership that develops large, nationwide initiatives. The benefit of this partnership became especially visible during the COVID-19 crisis. Together with three general hospitals, the umcs in the ROAZ collaboration quickly scaled up the care of patients in the region and the provision of additional IC capacity, both regionally and separately. The umcs also rapidly combined their scientific knowledge to conduct research into the causes, treatment and long-term effects of the virus.

The minister listed eight topics in his Letter to Parliament (July 2019) to which he expected the umcs in particular to make important contributions. Based on a number of illustrative examples, we show how the umcs shaped and produced content for these eight tasks.

The umcs openly publish a biennial account of how they have fulfilled their societal role. Bruins' successor Tamara van Ark has now responded to the umcs’ accountability. In her Letter to Parliament (October 2020) she confirmed the special position of the umcs and supported them in carrying out the tasks with which they provide added value.