Exhaustion among healthcare workers lowers Dutch hospitals' capacity
Dutch hospitals have fewer beds available because many healthcare workers are at home dealing with exhaustion. Absenteeism due to illness is up to twice as high as normal in some regions, which makes hospitals extra concerned about the increasing coronavirus infections, NU.nl reports after talking to hospitals in multiple regions.
The intensive care unit of the University Medical Center in Groningen (UMCG) currently has 14 percent of its staff sick at home. "Normally this is between 6 and 8 percent," Ate van der Zee, chairman of the Acute Care Network Noord Nederland, said to the newspaper.
Noord-Brabant hospitals are also dealing with absenteeism among nurses being roughly twice as high as normal, mostly due to fatigue. "The lack of workforce means that we cannot do what we want," Bart Berden of Acute Care Network Brabant said to the newspaper. Hospital workers don't have any more to give, Frank Bloemers, who is responsible for patient distribution in Noord-Holland and Flevoland, said.
With the number of coronavirus infections increasing in the third wave, departing Health Minister Hugo de Jonge wants to scale up to 1,700 intensive care beds throughout the country. Hospitals have already raised concerns that this won't be possible. "We will probably not be able to scale up," Van der Zee, who is also the chairman of UMCG, said to NU.nl. "If we have to provide more Covid-19 care, we will have to scale down even more regular care."
Diederik Gommers and Ernst Kuipers, intensive care specialists and the chairmen of the ICU associations in the country, called on the government to change its vaccination strategy so that everyone over the age of 60 can get their first shot as soon as possible, even if that means waiting a bit longer for the second dose. According to them, this is the only way to relieve some pressure on the hospitals.