If hospitals have difficulty caring for corona patients in the coming weeks, it will mainly be because they have too few employees available. That shortage determines whether they can handle the influx, and not so much the number of patients.
That’s what the hospitals say in a tour of the ANP. Before the pandemic, healthcare was already suffering from staff shortages, and those shortages have become greater in the corona years. Now that the number of infections and the number of admissions are increasing, healthcare workers will also fall ill and drop out. Then fewer and fewer people are available to treat more and more people.
Dutch hospitals are currently treating almost 600 people who have the corona virus among their members. Within a month the pressure doubled. In the coming weeks, the occupancy will probably increase further towards 800 corona patients. In the most unfavorable scenario of the National Coordination Center for Patient Distribution (LCPS), the number of admitted corona patients even exceeds 1000. That would be the largest wave since April last year. The pressure is rising, especially on the nursing wards.
The University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) says it can switch quickly in the new wave if necessary, but “we will not have enough staff to both admit additional covid patients and carry out regular treatments. That means that regular care will be postponed if the pressure due to covid increases again. To what extent depends of course on the numbers of extra patients, “said chairman Ger Sieders of the so-called capacity team of the hospital.
Hospital Radboudumc in Nijmegen says it saw the new wave coming and that it is deploying extra people. “We have noticed since this week that absenteeism among staff is increasing. This means that, despite the larger flexible layer in some departments, we have had to temporarily close beds and cancel some operations. If the influx continues to increase and the increased absenteeism persists longer, this may temporarily lead to more delays in care that is not urgent or urgent.”
Rijnstate Hospital in Arnhem, Beatrix Hospital in Gorinchem and Groene Hart Hospital in Gouda say that the staff shortage has been causing problems for some time, regardless of the number of corona patients. “If there is a greater influx, then we have to arrange that. We do this, for example, by asking employees to work extra shifts, by deploying care reservists in support and by hiring self-employed people without employees,” says the Beatrix Hospital.
Without major problems
Other hospitals expect to be able to get through the coming period without major problems. This applies to large hospitals such as Amsterdam UMC, Elisabeth-Tweesteden (Tilburg) and the Haga Hospital (The Hague), but also to smaller hospitals such as BovenIJ (Amsterdam), Van Weel-Bethesda (Dirksland), the Streekziekenhuis Koningin Beatrix (Winterswijk) ), the St. Jans Gasthuis (Weert), the Wilhelmina Hospital (Assen) and Slingeland (Doetinchem).
When asked for an explanation for the new influx, hospitals cite carnival and winter sports, and the arrival of new virus versions, among other things. The time of year also plays a role, according to doctors. In winter, infectious diseases spread more easily. In addition, they take into account that the protection of the repeat injections may have decreased slightly. High-risk groups received that vaccination in September, about five months ago.