Cabinet killed plan for 100 extra ICU spaces
The Ministry of Public Health scrapped a plan that could have meant around 100 extra intensive care beds available from the start of this month, the Volkskrant reports. The plan, drafted by patient distribution coordinator LCPS and the association of intensive care NVIC, involved concentrating this extra coronavirus care in three hospitals and recruiting ICU nurses from abroad. The detailed plan was axed in September because the Ministry only wanted to use Dutch ICU staff, according to the newspaper.
"Because the idea of concentrated Covid care kept coming back, we wanted to know whether it was even a possibility," Piet Melief, chief medical officer at the LCPS and one of the drafters of the plan, said to the newspaper. "This was the careful elaboration of that. To our surprise, we were not allowed to continue with it."
The LCPS presented the plan to senior ministry officials on September 17. It proposed four cohort departments of 24 intensive care beds for Covid patients in the emergency hospital in Utrecht, Bronovo hospital in The Hague, and St Jansdal in Lelystad. That is a total of 96 ICU beds intended for coronavirus patients without serious complications. "It wouldn't have solved all our problems, but it is a significant number," Melief said to the newspaper.
The LCPS advised recruiting foreign ICU nurses for these departments and having them work under the direction of Dutch nurses who can be deployed more efficiently. The organization estimated it would cost about 100 euros per hour per nurse.
The organizations wanted to have this plan ready by December 1, given an expected increase in Covid-19 patients in the winter. LCPS and NVIC said they needed two months to prepare, so the Ministry had to decide by October 1.
The Ministry acknowledged to the Volkskrant that the plan was discussed with top Ministry officials and later with Health Minister Hugo de Jonge. But according to the Ministry, it was not a fully-fledged plan, and it never rejected the implementation thereof.
About two weeks after the deadline, the Ministry formally agreed to the formation of a working group. But it imposed so many requirements that it was impossible to implement in practice, people directly involved said to the newspaper. For example, one condition was that only Dutch personnel be deployed. An "impossible assignment," one of those involved said, given the shortage in ICU staff.