SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – All non-urgent healthcare scheduled to take place at Dutch hospitals and clinics in the coming weeks is being suspended in order to free up staff to work in acute care services, as the number of coronavirus patients increases.
Scheduled treatment which must take place within six weeks – such as cancer-related operations and organ transplants – will go ahead as planned, but minor ops which can be delayed are being cancelled, medical care minister Tamara van Ark said on Tuesday.
Pressure is mounting on hospital services because of coronavirus, and hospitals are also coping with high rates of absenteeism, Van Ark said. The Christmas holidays are also making it more difficult to complete rosters.
Van Ark said hospitals expect to deal with a peak in hospital admissions in January. ‘It is all hands on deck in hospitals in the coming weeks,’ Van Ark said. ‘I support hospitals in taking these extra measures and I am calling on everyone to stick to the rules during the lockdown.
This is the only way we can keep care accessible to those who need it.’ The number of intensive care beds is also being scaled back up to 1,450, 300 more than in normal times. More patients will also be moved to Germany, she said.
Acute care chief Ernst Kuipers said on Monday he expected the number of coronavirus patients in intensive care to reach 640 around the end of the year. If current infection rates develop as forecast, experts expect some 1,900 coronavirus patients to be treated on regular wards by the start of 2021.