Healthcare labor unions disappointed by lockdown easing
Unions representing healthcare workers, Nu’91 and FNV, expressed their dissatisfaction following the government's decision to start relaxing lockdown measures on April 28, explaining that the timing was not the right given the amount of pressure hospital staff face. The National Acute Care Network (LNAZ), led by intensive care expert Ernst Kuipers, offered a different opinion, saying it was positive about the decision.
"There is a high level of absenteeism and operating rooms are closed because employees have to help out in intensive care. The policy is still: All hands on deck," FNV director Elise Merlijn said.
The country’s ICU system is currently treating 823 patients with Covid-19, the most in nearly a year. Combined with non-coronavirus patients, the intensive care capacity is at 85 percent.
"We all have to make sure that the pressure is off the hospitals. So that we can soon enjoy a beer or wine at the terrace, especially the nurses who have been on the front line for a year", the chair of healthcare union Nu’91, Stella Salden, said.
The National Network Acute Care (LNAZ) sees the government's plans as useful and finds that current coronavirus figures allow for some of the lockdown measures to be abandoned. Though the average number of coronavirus infections has trended upwards for months, including each of the past six days, the Cabinet argued there was evidence that a plateau was reached this week.
“There is now a stable level [of new infections]. If it stays that way, we think the light easing is possible", the LNAZ representative said.
Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte said during a press conference on Tuesday the country would press forward with the first of a six-step reopening plan on April 28 as initially planned, despite recent concerns. Step one in the plan includes the reopening of cafe terraces and more shops, allowing two visitors per household per day, and the elimination of the curfew.
On Tuesday, the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital care rose to its highest point in over a hundred days. There were 2,653 people being treated for Covid-19 in hospitals throughout the country.