London NHS Trust: Coronavirus Intensive Care Only for Those ‘Reasonably Certain’ to Live

BERLIN, GERMANY - JUNE 17: An elderly patient lies in a bed at the Unfallkrankenhaus Berlin (UKB) hospital in Marzahn district on June 17, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. The UKB hospital has among the most modern emergency care services in Germany. (Photo by Theo Heimann/Getty Images)
Theo Heimann/Getty Images

A National Health Service (NHS) hospital in London has admitted that it is limiting intensive care treatment for coronavirus only to those “reasonably certain” to survive, meaning some elderly people may not receive support.

In a signal that British health services are starting to restrict criteria for intensive care unit (ICU) treatment, Imperial College Healthcare said that “very poorly patients with coronavirus may need to be on a ventilator for extended periods” and claimed that “this would not be in their best interests”.

A senior consultant at the major NHS trust told The Telegraph on Sunday: “As we learn more about the disease, we are being much more careful about which patients are being considered for critical care.

“In normal times we will give most people the benefit of the doubt. That has changed,” they warned.

“With this infection you need a couple of weeks on a ventilator, so with resources being used for such a long time, you have to be reasonably certain the person is going to get better,” they added, claiming that “delaying” their deaths by a few weeks would not be the right thing for the patient “or for society”.

Findings from a report by the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) revealed in the past week that coronavirus patients in NHS critical care have a nearly 50 per cent chance of dying.

One doctor asserted that a lot of the patients on ventilation in ICUs “are going to die anyway” — effectively saying that it was a waste to treat them — in comments reported by The Guardian.

A palliative care specialist has already suggested that senior citizens, who are most at risk, should talk to their family about whether they want hospital treatment if they contract coronavirus.

While Imperial College Healthcare claimed that intensive care was not being denied because of capacity problems, other NHS trust sources have told The Telegraph that rationing is already happening at their hospitals.

The United Kingdom is still two weeks away from the expected peak of the pandemic. British hospitals have just 8,000 ventilators, but are frantically sourcing another 30,000 in anticipation of the spike in demand.

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