Nurses will be allowed to look after two critically ill COVID-19 patients at the same time after NHS bosses relaxed the rule requiring one-to-one treatment in intensive care as hospitals come under intense strain.
NHS England has decided to temporarily suspend the 1:1 rule as the number of people who are in hospital very sick with Covid has soared to 11,514, of whom 986 are on a ventilator.
The move comes amid concern that intensive care units, which went into the pandemic already short of nurses, are being hit by staff being off sick or isolating as a result of Covid. It follows a warning last week by Prof Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, that the Covid resurgence could overwhelm the NHS.
Dr Alison Pittard, the dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care, which represents doctors in ICUs, welcomed the shift to a more “flexible” nurse/patient staffing ratio in critical care. But she said it must be used only for as long as the second wave is putting units under serious pressure.
“Covid has placed the NHS, and critical care in particular, in an unenviable position and we must admit everyone for whom the benefits of critical care outweigh the burdens. This means relaxing the normal staffing ratios to meet this demand in such a way that delivers safe care, but also takes account of the impact this may have on staff health and wellbeing."
“The 1:2 ratio is a maximum ratio, to be used only to support Covid activity, [and] not for planned care, and is not sustainable in the long term. This protects staff and patients”, she said.
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Source: The Guardian, 8 November 2020