There is a small window of opportunity for anaesthetists and ICU doctors to work together to plan for the expected surge in the number of patients requiring critical care, the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, the Intensive Care Society, the Association of Anaesthetists and the Royal College of Anaesthetists says.
In a statement, the collective said the expected increase in demand will mean that intensive care resources in many hospitals and Trusts will be put under severe pressure. The Government’s ‘Delay’ phase provides a small window of opportunity for intensivists and anaesthetists to work even more closely together to prepare for this surge by laying down plans to:
- increase critical care capacity;
- review clinical guidance;
- provide staff with training to refresh skills;
- identify requirements such as the need for ventilators, more critical care rooms and the redeployment of extra nurses and doctors.
The organisations are urgently reviewing and revising clinical guidance for the UK intensive care and anaesthetic community.
In the meantime, the collaborative is strongly recommending that departments of intensive care medicine and anaesthesia work closely together and develop plans, including upskilling.
A new website (www.icmanaesthesiacovid-19.org) will act as a central hub for all new multidisciplinary guidance, information and resources to support the management of patients with COVID-19. As more guidance is developed, it will be added to the website.
The statement comes as the UK chief medical officers, the General Medical Council (GMC) and NHS England announce that doctors may be expected to work outside their usual area of expertise in the increasingly likely scenario of widespread community transmission of COVID-19.
"A significant epidemic will require healthcare professionals to be flexible in what they do," the organisations say in a joint letter published today. "It may entail working in unfamiliar circumstances or surroundings, or working in clinical areas outside of their usual practice for the benefit of patients and the population as a whole."