Experts are not convinced by new coronavirus healthcare proposal
The Dutch Association of Hospitals has warned that it would be almost impossible to promise that regular care can continue at 100 percent efficiency if the Netherlands is faced with a second wave of the coronavirus.
Preparing for a second wave
A plan by the National Acute Care Network (LNAZ) put to the Minister for Medical Care, Martin van Rijn, aims to expand intensive care units (ICUs) in Dutch hospitals to prepare for the possible second peak.
The proposal is to structurally increase the capacity of ICUs by 200 beds, to 1.350 in total. In case of emergency, this capacity would be increased to 1.700. The plan also outlines the need for more ambulances, specifically ones equipped to deal with coronavirus patients.
Furthermore, former nurses and nurses from other departments would be trained to be able to assist in ICUs to help manage the workload.
This structural expansion of ICUs would subsequently allow for regular care to go on uninterrupted by the pandemic, as there would be enough space for everyone. The plan made it clear that caring for coronavirus patients should not be at the expense of regular hospital care.
Is the plan viable?
Parties who work in acute care have outlined that the plan is very ambitious, as it would cost both money and time.
The Dutch Association of Hospitals is concerned about staffing and the demands placed on nurses. The association says it would not be possible to offer sufficient levels of care for non-coronavirus patients if there were to be a second wave, specifically with current staffing levels.
The trade union for those working in healthcare (CNV Zorg & Welzijn) believes that while the plan may look good on paper, ensuring sufficient staff is key and takes time. Training ICU nurses takes a total of 18 months, including an internship.