Dutch hospitals to stop regular care with Covid cases rising into January
The Dutch government announced an emergency measure on Tuesday to freeze regular and scheduled medical care at hospitals in the Netherlands because of the rapidly rising number of Covid-19 patients. During the first wave of the coronavirus, the decision led to nearly a full stop in elective surgeries, and delays in diagnosing and treating cancer and chronic illnesses.
On Monday, Dutch hospitals were treating 2,162 patients with Covid-19, up a third since the start of the month. Some 586 of those patients were in intensive care, the most since mid-November. The hospitalized patient total was expected to rise to 2,540 by the end of the month, including 640 patients in intensive care, said acute care leader Ernst Kuipers on Monday.
With coronavirus infections having risen dramatically and consistently for about three weeks, the Cabinet said it is anticipating the peak in Covid hospitalizations to come in January. At the same time, “The hospitals are struggling due to the high workload and contamination among staff causing high absenteeism. In addition, the schedules are even more difficult to fill during the Christmas period,” the Ministry of Medical Care said in a statement.
To cope with that, regular care provision will be reallocated to handle more critical cases, the ministry said. It plans to scale up the intensive care unit availability from about 1,150 spaces to 1,450. Minister Tamara van Ark said, "This means all hands on deck in hospitals during the upcoming weeks."
Some ICU patients will also be transferred to facilities in Germany. Dozens of patients from the Netherlands were treated in Germany during the first wave, and a handful of other patients were transferred there during the first half of the second wave.
"I ams supporting hospitals with the extra regulations, and ask that everyone stick to the restrictions during the lockdown. Only then will we be able to provide care for everyone that needs it," she said.