One-to-one nursing suspended for critically ill Covid patients

NHS England has decided to temporarily suspend the one-to-one treatment patients with coronavirus in intensive care receive as hospitals come under intense strain.

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 coronavirus. It also follows a warning from Prof Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, that the resurgence of the virus could overwhelm the NHS.

The Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, which represents doctors in ICUs, has welcomed the flexibility that the decision allows, but cautioned that it must be used only for as long as the second wave is putting units under serious pressure.

Dr Alison Pittard, the dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care, said: “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.”

NHS England has agreed the relaxation with the British Association of Critical Care Nurses, which represents specialist nurses who work in high-dependency units and ICUs. They are due to confirm the arrangement in a formal announcement soon.

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