Provisional guidance on the recovery and rehabilitation for patients following the pandemic

13 May 2020

As part of our Critical Futures project, following a detailed research survey into the future requirements of critical care services with multiple stakeholders and partners, services supporting a patient’s life after critical illness was identified as crucial.

The Life After Critical Illness National Project, set up in 2019, was halfway through its work in defining full provision guidance for this area when the coronavirus outbreak began in the UK. The pandemic will be responsible for a large unmet need in the recovery phase of the illness, which will require the setting up of more and larger follow up services to augment the small number of centres of excellence already in existence.  The Faculty with its National Project partners has therefore produced a Position Statement and Provisional Guidance to guide this phase of development.

Historically, there has been no national and limited local investment in managing the aftermath of complex critical illness. This has left our patients with no clear avenue to help them with the physical, psychological, cognitive and social consequences of critical illness. It has also led to progressive inequality for patients dependent on where they happen to fall critically ill. As a result, they struggle to get back to their previous quality of life when appropriate help could have easily improved their outcome, if provided by those with an understanding of their recovery journey. This is in stark contrast to single organ disease, such as heart, respiratory, head injury or stroke, which all have well defined rehabilitation pathways. 


Dr Carl Waldmann, Chair of the Life After Critical Illness National Project, said: 

"It is essential that this current unmet need is recognised by the NHS centrally and that resources are appropriately set up to deal with the consequences of critical illness for all critical care patients, including the significant numbers who have survived COVID."


Dr Alison Pittard, Dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, said:

"We have written to the appropriate commissioning and policy leads in the four nations of the UK asking for planning to begin on developing services that will support not only patients who have been through critical care with COVID, but all patients with critical illness."