At the press conference on Wednesday, Minister de Jonge mentioned 1700 as the number of ICU beds he wanted available, as a condition for relaxing the lockdown. But according to experts, that’s not going to be possible, RTL Nieuws reports.
During the coronavirus crisis, the Netherlands was able to make the massive leap from its usual 1150 intensive care unit beds to 2200. However, the latter number is not sustainable- it was the result of an emergency situation.
ICU nurses put in charge of double their usual number of patients
Nurses, surgical assistants and anaesthesiologists had to be drafted in from other departments to reach that number over the past weeks. Nurses were put in charge of 3-4 patients, when they would usually only be caring for two.
Extra ICU staff need to go back to original departments
Now, however, these extra staff need to go back to their old departments, because treatment for non-coronavirus patients cannot be delayed any longer. That means that the ICUs are back to their original staff number, which is 3800. If there are to be 1700 ICU beds, there need to be at least 1650 extra ICU nurses added.
Training an ICU nurse takes at least 18 months
This is not a simple matter: an ICU nurse is usually trained for 18 months on top of their usual nursing qualification. Accordingly, the Netherlands could not provide extra ICU nurses in under a year and a half.
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