EU to train 10,000 medics to work in ICU during pandemic

EU to train 10,000 medics to work in ICU during pandemic
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The European Commission will spend €2.5 million on training 10,000 healthcare professionals, preparing them to start working at European intensive care units as the coronavirus pandemic progresses.

The Covid-19 crisis reportedly increased the need for ICU services by 30 to 40%. The sudden surge in critical patients overstretched the services and supplies of many hospitals, causing an urgent need for more specialised staff.

10,000 doctors and nurses with varying specialisations will be trained between October and December of 2020, bringing their new skillsets to 1,000 hospitals within the EU.

The training programme is part of the Commission’s Emergency Support Instrument, designed to support Member States in times of exceptional crises.

The plan will help to increase the number of staff capable of treating intensive care patients when there is a “rapid, temporary and significant scale-up of ICU capacity,” the Commission stated.

“With this decision, we further demonstrate our commitment to support front line healthcare workers across Europe,” Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, said.

“By providing essential medical training [we will] ensure that they are fully equipped with the necessary knowledge to help in the specialist setting of ICUs in times of crisis.”

Last week, 26.6% of Brussels’ coronavirus patients ended up at Intensive Care. Though there is a slight improvement in the infection rate in Belgium’s capital, the city remains a hotspot for the virus.

Belgium’s homeless and elderly have proven to be vulnerable groups during the pandemic, with many coronavirus patients in these groups ending up at the ICU.

Medical training for ICU staff differs from non-ICU staff in several respects. Firstly, ICU patients generally require more immediate and intensive care, as they often arrive in life-threatening conditions.

Additionally, ICU professionals are required to perform the same hospital routine checks on their patients as any other specialist, albeit under increased time pressure due to the critical circumstances. Lastly, ICU patients generally need to be monitored by a professional at all times for as long as their condition remains unstable.

Generally, ICU staff treat fewer patients, but these patients are in need of more vital and round-the-clock care.

Amée Zoutberg
The Brussels Times

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