30 Dec 2020

Protect Intensive Care Staff from reaching breaking point

We thank the NHS Chief Executive, Sir Simon Stevens, for his welcome and timely praise for Intensive Care and our colleagues across the NHS for their tireless efforts this year. 

We are also delighted to hear that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved today by the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. What is needed now is an accelerated rollout of the vaccine to all frontline health & social care workers following Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advice.

However, until then we must remember that we are indeed in the middle of the storm and the second wave is very much upon us with cases continuing to climb at alarming numbers across many regions of the UK.  53,135 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the UK today (29 December 2020) by the Department of Health and Social Care, which makes it clear that we have not yet reached the peak. 

Intensive care units (ICUs) are under extreme pressure as they continue to look after the sickest COVID-19 patients as well as providing care for other critically ill patients who need intensive care.

We see news reports that the number of ICU beds is running out. The issue is not beds, the issue is the lack of staff available to look after these very unwell patients. A bed doesn’t care for a patient, it’s the team of incredible doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, advanced practitioners, pharmacists and healthcare scientists who fight to keep you alive. 

The biggest risk to the country is the NHS becoming overwhelmed. Right now, ICU staff are stretched, over-worked and exhausted both physically and mentally, yet they keep going every day. 

ICU staff who are caring for your loved ones:

  • Have worked for almost 10 months without a significant break from COVID-19
  • Have stayed away from their families to keep working throughout the year
  • Have continued to look after critically ill patients with other serious conditions and patients recovering after major surgery throughout the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Have provided emotional support for patients isolated from their families who have been unable to visit
  • Have not yet had the chance access the opportunity to receive 1:1 psychological support from the Intensive Care Society to help deal with mental trauma that comes with caring for people with COVID-19
  • And so much more....

ICU staff are close to breaking point and we must protect them.

We cannot emphasise enough how important it is that people must continue to follow Government guidance depending on which tier they are in. These rules are in place to keep you safe. By simply following the guidance, you can drive numbers down and ensure that Intensive Care Units and the wider NHS can keep caring for you. 

The entire country owes an enormous debt of gratitude to every single person in the NHS for working tirelessly to care for the nation.