The primary aim of this guidance is to ensure that all patients get appropriate treatment during the pandemic. The immediate clinical guidance is intended to be consistent with national guidance issued by the RCP, BMA and GMC1,2,3. Where clinicians can document that they have considered and applied national professional guidance, including the present document, this will provide strong evidence that they have acted lawfully and according to their professional obligations.
If we are to minimise the harm that the virus can cause, patients should receive the interventions that are most likely to benefit them. The first responsibility of clinical teams is to assess what treatment is likely to provide benefit to the patient, taking into account the best available opinion on factors that predict this and applying it to the specific situation of the patient they are treating. COVID-19 is a new disease and data to assist clinical teams assessing what interventions are likely to benefit patients are now emerging. Some of the tools and discussion in this guidance are specific to COVID-19, but the ethical principles apply to all patients including non-infected patients who may be indirectly affected by the pandemic due to changes in delivery of normal services.