Dutch hospitals facing increasing shortage in ICU nurses
Hospitals in the Netherlands are still struggling with a shortage in intensive care nurses, with some intensive care units even having less staff available than last year, the Volkskrant reported after surveying 14 hospitals. Many hospitals are faced with shortages of between a few and several dozen ICU nurses.
Amsterdam UMC is struggling to fill about 20 full-time positions in intensive care. The Noordwest Hospital Group has a shortage of about 10 full-time employees. Medisch Spectrum Twente also has about 10 open vacancies. Due to its shortages, UMC Groningen now has three fewer ICU beds than this time last year - in addition to the existing shortage. In total the hospital has eight beds fewer than it would like. "And that while we would have liked to add six extra beds," Peter van der Voort of the UMCG said to the Volskrkant.
Less ICU capacity could well be a problem in the coming months, with the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus spreading through the Netherlands, a persistent group of Netherlands residents who refuse to be vaccinated, and concerns about vaccines' effectiveness against new variants of the coronavirus. A new wave of coronavirus infections in the fall seems to be an increasingly real scenario.
Diederik Gommer, ICU doctor and head of the Dutch association of intensive care NVIC, also raised concerns about the coming autumn, speaking on Op1. The current number of coronavirus infections is significantly higher than they were a year ago, he said. "We will have to live with the constant pressure from Covid patients in intensive care. We actually wanted to catch up on regular care, but we will not get around to that at all if care with Covid increases again."
According to Gommers, regular care cannot keep being postponed. "Or will we have to just say: this is the actual capacity of intensive care in the Netherlands? That's how we set it up together, these are the limited resources we have, and what are we going to do with that ICU capacity?" The choice is actually between treating one coronavirus patient in the ICU or treating eight people who have to undergo open heart surgery, for example, he said.