Treatments for patients most severely affected by COVID-19 have improved during the second wave compared to the first. A new report from the Scottish Intensive Care Society Audit Group looked at data on patients admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) and High Dependency Units (HDUs) across Scotland with COVID-19. In the second wave, a higher proportion of patients were managed with non-invasive ventilation on admission to ICU (17% in wave one compared with 44% in wave two) with a corresponding reduction in the use of advanced respiratory support (64% in wave one, 43% in wave two).
The data suggests that improvements in the understanding of the disease, as well as therapeutics and treatment of those most impacted, are leading to better outcomes for patients.
Dr Jennifer Armstrong, Medical Director at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, welcomed the report. She said: “Our staff, especially those at the front line, have been working tirelessly to support those impacted by COVID-19. We understand the incredible toll this virus has taken on patients and their families, particularly for those in intensive care or in high dependency units.
“The response of our teams, across the Health Board, has been nothing short of heroic and by learning more about the disease - and armed with better therapeutics and treatment options – our clinical teams are giving our most vulnerable patients improved outcomes. I want to thank all of our staff who have done so much to improve patient care during a truly unprecedented period.”
While there are signs that patient treatment and outcomes are improving, the pressure of COVID-19 on hospital wards continues. There are currently 702 patients with COVID-19 in hospitals across NHSGGC, exerting additional pressure on resources during busy winter months.
Dr Armstrong added: “With the first vaccines being delivered to patients and staff, there is hope on the horizon. However, the coronavirus is not beaten yet. There remains significant pressure on NHS resources, as people continue to become infected and we must all do what we can to stop the spread of the virus. Winter is always a busy time for the NHS and the next few months will be critical in our response. Everyone should remember FACTS and the part we all must play in the weeks ahead.”
Dr Bob Docking, a Critical Care Consultant based at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital has been on the frontline, treating those with advanced COVID-19. He said: “COVID seems to have been with us forever and life feels like it will never be the same again. With all the changes it’s important to remember that the fundamentals haven’t changed – we still come to work to do our best for each and every patient and try to minimise the stress and anxiety that their loved ones will be feeling. It’s also never been more important to look out for each other too.
“When I’m doing my ward rounds at the moment, I often see staff from other areas of the hospital coming down to help us out. It must be so stressful to be taken out from your comfort zone, but being the recipients of such help means an awful lot to us and allows us to continue to deliver the highest quality of care.”
The Scottish Intensive Care Society Audit Group (SICSAG) is the national adult critical care audit and quality assurance programme. It benefits from a close collaboration between the Scottish Intensive Care Society and Public Health Scotland. The audit has complete, national coverage of all admissions to intensive care units (ICUs) and combined critical care units in Scotland.
More information on their report can be found here https://beta.isdscotland.org/find-publications-and-data/population-health/covid-19/scottish-intensive-care-society-audit-group-report-on-covid-19/
You can hear more about Dr Docking’s Life on the Frontline here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQXrQjxc5qw