COVID-19: call for psychological support for ICU nurses as they face surge in cases

Critical care nurses will be managing more patients – but with diluted skills mix 

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Intensive care unit (ICU) nurses will need psychological support to be in place for them, as nurse to patient ratios fall in the COVID-19 pandemic, insists a critical care nurses' leader.

British Association of Critical Care Nurses (BACCN) chair Nicki Credland made the comments to Nursing Standard as she revealed that the one nurse to one patient ratio will end across the UK's ICUs. This is despite Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine guidance that states there must be one ICU nurse for every one ventilated patient. 

Nicki Credland, chair of BACCN

Intense pressures on ICU nurses dealing with a surge in COVID-19 cases

While reports have suggested there could be as many as six patients to one ICU nurse in some areas, Ms Credland suggested this was an ‘arbitrary figure’.

‘We have no idea until we know how many patients we get,’ she cautioned.

Dilution of skills is also likely to add to pressures on critical care nurses, who will be supporting nursing colleagues from outside the ICU who have been redeployed to help. 

Ms Credland said: ‘We are going to have to provide psychological support to all staff involved in this, particularly to ICU nurses and staff who will have the stress of looking after very complicated patients, in increasingly high volumes and working with staff who don’t traditionally work in the ICU.’

Ms Credland said the Intensive Care Society’s Wellbeing Resource Library can assist ICU staff with mental health support.

Ms Credland said BACCN has also produced resources for ICU nurses and non-ICU nurses.

Intensive Care Society: Wellbeing Resource Library

BACCN: Covid 19 Nurse Educational Resource Centre

Related material

Guidelines for the provision of intensive care services

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