Under-prepared ICU beds at 120 per cent capacity day of lockdown

Andrew Little did not add one single resourced ICU bed to Auckland’s three district health boards in the almost 18 months since the end of the first Covid lockdown last year, says National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti.

“Ministerial answers show Auckland ICU, the biggest in the country, was at 120 per cent capacity the day the current outbreak was announced. This shows ICUs were under huge pressure even before  Covid, and the Minister didn’t even receive any reports until a few weeks ago. What did he do during that 18 months and how did he instead squander this time?

“It is becoming clear that Andrew Little doesn’t really know what an ICU does and what questions he should be asking.

“The facts add up to Minister Little’s reckless disregard and mismanagement of ICU infrastructure:

  • he only received a report on ICUs a few weeks ago, well into the current outbreak
  • he rejected a request to build negative pressure rooms earlier this year, then built them in the middle of the current outbreak
  • he has not added a single new ICU bed in the last 15 months
  • he failed to lobby for critical ICU nurses, while the May 5 pay freeze caused a significant number of ICU nurses to leave the sector

“It is also hard to believe Minister Little when he writes there are 10 ICU nurses at Counties Manukau. Middlemore has 25 resourced ICU beds and either the minister is wrong, again, or this is a further indictment of his failure to staff ICU beds. Neither answer is good from a struggling Minister

“Andrew Little needs to make a commitment now to a target number of new ICU beds and new ICU nurses. Don’t bother with another useless health indicator, Mr Little – New Zealanders want a real target with real beds and nurses, not a mere wishlist.”

You can read responses to Written Parliamentary Questions (WPQs) below: 



Reply 42142 (2021) has been answered to Dr Shane Reti
28 Sept 2021
Portfolio: Health (Hon Andrew Little)
Question: Have health officials seen, read or prepared any recommendations in 2021 around ICU capacity implications and suggestions for coronavirus, listed by date, title, author and audience?

Reply: I am advised the Ministry of Health have seen two models that provide information on ICU requirements in response to COVID-19. The first is a model developed by ICU specialists from Capital & Coast District Health Board (DHB) based on the New South Wales experience. The second was developed by an ICU specialist at Southern DHB. The Capital and Coast DHB model was received in late August 2021 and Southern DHB's model was received in mid September 2021.



Table 41995 (2021).
ICU occupancy or utilisation rate at Auckland District Health Board for the week 9 August 2021 – 17 August 2021 inclusive, broken down by day.

 Answered to Dr Shane Reti 28 Sept 2021

Department of Critical Care Medicine

Date

Daytime

Occupancy

09/08/2021

106.7%

10/08/2021

113.3%

11/08/2021

100%

12/08/2021

93.3%

13/08/2021

80%

14/08/2021

86.7%

15/08/2021

60%

16/08/2021

120%

17/08/2021

120%

 



Table 41987 (2021). Number of resourced ICU beds, negative pressure rooms and headcount ICU nurses at the 3 Auckland District Health Boards (DHB) listed by DHB on the following dates: May 13 2020, April 1 2021, May 5 2021, Aug 17 2021.

Answered to Dr Shane Reti 28 September 2021

The dates chosen are:

  • May 13, 2020: NZ moves to alert Level 2
  • April 2021: Delta enters MIQ
  • May 5, 2021: Public sector pay freeze announced
  • August 17, 2021: Current Delta outbreak starts

District Health Board

Resourced ICU Beds

Negative Pressure Rooms

ICU Nurse Headcount

May 13 2020

April 1 2021

May 5 2021

Aug 17 2021

May 13 2020

April 1 2021

May 5 2021

Aug 17 2021

May 13 2020

April 1 2021

May 5 2021

Aug 17 2021

Auckland

39

39

39

39

2

2

2

9

250.19

217.66

215.55

212.42

Counties Manukau

10

10

10

10

3

5

5

5

10*

10*

10*

10*

Waitematā

10

10

10

10

2**

4**

4**

4**

51***

53 ***

53 ***

51 ***


Please note: Auckland data is for adults only.

* Excludes Associate Charge Nurse Manager, Charge Nurse Manager, Educator, Clinical Nurse Specialist roles etc.
** Assume ICU/HDU only.
*** FTE – excluding casuals.

This data has been collected across multiple DHBs, thus there may be some discrepancies in the way the data is collected, recorded, and reported.