More ICU staff alone will not help overcrowded hospitals: LNAZ chair
Hiring extra ICU staff alone will not solve the problem of overcrowded hospitals due to the Covid-19 pandemic, chair of the acute care network Ernst Kuipers told NU.nl. A comprehensive system will need to accompany the extra healthcare workers to relieve pressure on hospitals, the expert said.
"Of course, we need to employ and train more staff. But maybe, we also need to structure the ICUs more efficiently," Kuipers said. Experts predicted that Covid-19 patients will continue to fill up the ICUs in the years to come.
According to the LNAZ chair, "smart ICU systems" can reduce the workload on ICU staff by predicting "hour or a day" in advance when a patient's condition will deteriorate. "If you broadly employ this system, you can reduce the amount of time patients stay in the ICU. Ultimately, this also means that you need less staff and it saves money," Kuipers said.
The number of ICU beds increased from around 950 beds before the pandemic to 1,200 beds currently. Yet, since the onset of the pandemic, staff shortages in the ICU have become more acute. In 2020, 462 healthcare workers started a training course for the ICU. To treat the increasing number of patients, 300 more people needed to be trained.
Kuipers predicted that the healthcare system would continue to face staff shortages in the years to come. "The expectation is that the staff shortage will double by 2030."