Intensive Care “lite”: the Dutch way of expanding ICU capacity

Today, the Dutch House of Representatives will discuss the expansion of normal IC capacity in the Netherlands. Specialists propose a “lite” version, in which more ventilation and rehabilitation clinics should be implemented. 

Health minister Hugo de Jonge advocates for an increase in IC capacity from 1,250 to 1,700 beds. However, a number of nurses and other healthcare professionals argue that this idea is impossible to carry out due to staff shortages, NOS reports.

Others say that this period is still uncertain, and it may well be the case that such an expansion is unnecessary, as in pre-corona times, the capacity at 1,250 was sufficient. In fact, even during the worst coronavirus peak in the Netherlands, hospitals were able to absorb the shock. Additionally, IC beds are costly, at £2,500 per day in a teaching hospital.

IC lite

Thus, the idea of increasing ventilation and rehabilitation clinics, the IC lite, is intended to provide patients that are no longer in acute distress with rehabilitation so that they can continue to recover, whereas IC clinics would be reserved for patients in serious condition.

Not only does this cost less, at £1,800 but also allows for patients that lie somewhere in the middle to relieve the right care.

However, some specialists such as Diederik Gommers, president of the Association for Intensive Care, is concerned about a second wave, and whether the Dutch will be capable of accommodating it without a greater IC capacity.

Others contend that it’s merely a matter of creating space and getting patients out of IC units faster if possible.

Supply and demand

Pulmonologist Leo Heunks of the Amsterdam UMC says that only the amount of beds necessary should be available, since a surplus (a greater supply of beds than demand) would result in patients being admitted to IC units more easily, when it isn’t always required (the threshold for admitting patients into IC care is lower in the US, for instance).

Heunks would like to prevent this, arguing that it would only be costly, and would make it difficult to decrease beds later on in the future.

Do you think that the Dutch IC capacity should increase? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. 

Feature image: Canva

Vedika Luthra
Vedika Luthra
Vedika was born in India, raised in Poland and moved to the Netherlands to study. Like her nationality, she’s confused about what she likes most, which is why her bachelor’s degree was in liberal arts and sciences. She enjoys writing about all things food-related but likes to mix it up every now and then.


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