News items Pressure on healthcare increases
21 October 2021

You can read and hear about the increasing pressure on healthcare in the media. As Radboudumc, we find it important to respond to this and to indicate why we are concerned about the current situation and about the period to come; and what you yourself can do to prevent worse.

The pressure on our hospital is increasing, as it is in other hospitals around the country. This is affecting planned surgery, the intensive care unit (ICU) and the nursing wards. And this despite the fact that fewer COVID patients were admitted to the Radboudumc than in previous corona waves (21 October: 13, 5 of which in the ICU). The difference with those earlier waves, however, is that the regular emergency and urgent care was discontinued then but is not now. Moreover, there are fewer healthcare providers available now. This means we have limited capacity to admit patients.

Limited IC capacity

In the spring of 2020, when the corona pandemic swept through the Netherlands, 46 COVID patients were admitted to the ICU at the same time at the peak. This was possible because almost all other care was discontinued and all caregivers assisted on the COVID wards. A lot was asked of them. Moreover, most people remained at home in lockdown, which led to fewer (traffic) accidents. So we managed to get through the first wave, and many more IC patients could be admitted to the existing IC and the IC could be temporarily expanded for this purpose.

Now, October 2021, the ICU is full but the situation is very different. In the ICU there are now only 26 beds available due to shortage of care staff. In 22 of these beds are non-COVID patients; these patients have had a serious accident, for example, or have undergone a planned, complex operation, some of which have been postponed earlier. The shortage of ICU nurses is due in part to a high percentage of sick leave. And where in previous waves nurses from other departments helped out in the ICU, this is not possible now. They also have an increased level of sick leave, and their own departments are currently catching up with a lot of postponed care.

Increased postponed care

On average, fifteen regular patients per COVID patient cannot be operated on, most of them heart patients. This is because a COVID patient spends much longer in the ICU. This automatically means that an increase in COVID patients leads to more delayed care for other patients. The waiting list, which now includes approximately 650 Radboudumc patients waiting for postponed care, will become longer. This also applies to the nursing departments: there are fewer beds available for regular patients, so admissions are postponed.

Flu season is also approaching

So the pressure is increasing, and RIVM forecasts also predict a fall and winter with more COVID infections. In addition, a heavy flu season is expected to follow. Last winter, the flu virtually stayed away due to the corona measures. As a result, people have built up less resistance to the flu. This can lead to a considerable increase in flu patients in hospitals.

What can you do yourself?

You too can help keep the risk of infection by corona and flu as low as possible this winter. First of all, by using the by now familiar basic measures: 1.5 meter distance, mouth masks, working at home where possible, washing your hands, ventilating. These basic measures still apply in the patient care buildings of the Radboudumc.

In addition, it is very important to stay at home when you have flu symptoms and always get tested at the GGD, even if you have a negative self-test.

And thirdly: get a vaccination, against the flu if you are invited for one and against corona. Vaccination really helps! Most of the patients who are now admitted to our clinic with COVID have not been vaccinated.

To conclude

We assess the situation in the hospital on a daily basis and do everything we can to provide our patients with the best possible care.

If you have an appointment at our hospital for treatment, it will continue as usual unless we call you to inform you otherwise.