Nursing workforce deployment and ICU strain during the COVID-19

Research Project

Nursing workforce deployment and ICU strain during the COVID-19 pandemic in Victoria, Australia

About this project

The Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society (ANZICS) in collaboration with Ambulance Victoria (AV) developed CHRIS (Critical Health Resource Information System) in April 2020 to provide daily reports of ICU bed capacity, number of COVID-19 patients in ICU (ventilated and non-ventilated) and resources, to inform the Australian Government’s pandemic response. CHRIS was amended to enable collection of detailed nursing workforce data in Victoria from November 2021. Data on four categories of nurses were recorded daily by participating ICUs: Registered Undergraduate Student of Nursing (RUSON); Registered Nurse (RN-re-deployed) who was re-deployed to ICU and did not usually work there; Registered Nurse (RN) who regularly worked in ICU and Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) who possessed a postgraduate critical care nursing qualification. This study examines these data to describe the extent and manner by which the increased demand for ICU care during the COVID-19 pandemic was met by ICU nursing workforce expansion in late 2021 and early 2022 in Victoria; to quantify provision of re-deployed and non-critical care trained staff working within ICUs; and to attempt to identify factors associated with insufficient provision of critical care trained nursing staff.

Research team


  • Michelle Topple
  • Dr Jason Watterson