Andrew Little reduces ICU beds mid-pandemic

Andrew Little has been caught out obscuring ICU bed numbers by mixing adult ICU beds with paediatric beds making the overall number of ICU beds look bigger when in fact the Delta outbreak is mostly all about adult ICU beds, says National Party Health Spokesperson Dr Shane Reti.

“It was only when I asked Andrew Little how the number of ICU beds at Auckland DHB could go from 39 to 94 ICU beds in one week that he had to confess that he was mixing in paediatric and Starship ICU beds.

“In fact, since the beginning of the Delta outbreak the number of resourced adult ICU beds has fallen by as much as 20 beds across the health sector and have never recovered to the same level as at the start of the outbreak (see graph). This is the equivalent of all of the ICU beds put together at Lakes, Hutt Valley, West Coast, Tairāwhiti and Whanganui DHBs.  In short Andrew Little has reduced ICU beds when we needed them most.

“The tragic tale of Andrew’s mishandling of ICU beds is, in his own answers to ministerial questions, a tale of adding no new ICU beds in Auckland for 18 months and then when Delta hit actually reducing ICU beds.

If Aucklanders want to know why they have been in lockdown for so long it is because Little, Ardern and Hipkins needed to protect the health system and to protect ICU beds because they had failed to resource enough ICU beds.

“Maybe if Andrew Little hadn’t been distracted with restructuring the health system he could have resourced more ICU beds and reduced the lock down period for Auckland and reduced the 100,000 people with delayed procedures.”

Source: Table 52046 (Reply to Written Question)

Reply 47171 (2021) has been answered 
Portfolio: Health (Hon Andrew Little) 
Question: How does he reconcile his answer to 41987(2021) showing 39 resourced ICU beds at Auckland DHB on Aug 17 2021, with his answer 41045(2021) showing 94 resourced ICU beds at Auckland DHB one week later on 24 August 2021, and how is it possible for resourced ICU beds to increase by 55 beds in one week at one DHB ? 
Reply: I am advised that the figures in Written Parliamentary Question 41045 (2021) provides the total number of resourced Intensive Care Unit/High Dependency Unit (ICU/HDU) beds at Auckland District Health Board facilities as reported to the Ministry of Health in the daily occupancy reporting form. These figures include Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) beds/cots as part of Starship Children’s Hospital and other paediatric/children’s intensive care spaces. The figures reported in Written Parliamentary Question 41987(2021) includes only Adult ICU beds. 

Wednesday, 29 September 2021   14:31

Oral Questions — Questions to Ministers

Hon ANDREW LITTLE318 Hon ANDREW LITTLE: Well, as that member well knows, the availability of ICU beds literally changes from one day to the next. It is dependent on the throughput of patients in hospitals for other treatments; also the availability of staff, because some staff available one day may fall sick the next and are therefore not available, and that will alter the availability of ICU beds. The reality is we have available at the moment roughly 325 ICU or ICU capable beds, but, through the additional measures taken since August last year, we can surge that through management of other demands on hospitals to 550 ICU capable beds.

Reply 52046 (2021) has been answered
Portfolio: Health (Hon Andrew Little)
Question: Further to 48248 (2021) what was the number of resourced and occupied adult ICU Beds and ventilators in use each day as per the daily DHB census, from Aug 16th 2021 to the present, listed by DHB and day ?
Reply: Information on resourced ICU / HDU beds is not available prior to 24 August 2021 and therefore information has been provided from that date. I refer the Member to the attached table, which provides the number of resourced ICU / HDU beds, number of ICU / HDU occupied, number of ventilators in service and number of ventilators in use. I note that these numbers are taken as a midnight census for each date and that district health boards (DHB) do not report weekend numbers outside alert levels 3 or 4. Therefore, this excludes weekend reporting after 11 September 2021. I also note that DHBs with small numbers of ICU / HDU beds may see significant daily fluctuation in occupancy rates.