NHS Employers have denied allegations that thousands of vulnerable elderly have been denied potentially life-saving care at the height of the pandemic in order to stop the bypassing health service.
NHS England took the extraordinary step on Sunday by issuing a 12-page rebuttal to the allegations in Sunday times Patients deemed unlikely to survive were “written off” by refusing to intensive care
Professor Stephen Boyce, National Medical Director for the National Health Service in England, said: ‘These false allegations will be deeply offensive to the NHS doctors, nurses, therapists and assistants, who together brought more than 110,000 critically ill Covid-19 patients into hospital during the first wave of the pandemic, as well. They continue until today.
“The Sunday Times assertions simply are not backed by facts. It was the older patients who disproportionately received NHS care. More than two-thirds of our Covid-19 patients were over 65.
“The NHS has repeatedly instructed staff that no patient who could benefit from treatment should be deprived of it, and thanks to government guidelines being followed, even at the height of the epidemic, there was no shortage of ventilators and intensive care.”
The newspaper claimed a high rate of coronavirus infection in the UK before the lockdown began on March 23, and that the limited supply of mechanical ventilators from the NHS had led to the spread of the epidemic, meaning that “the government, the NHS and many doctors have been forced to make controversial decisions – choose which A life to save, which patients should be treated and who should give priority – in order to protect hospitals. “
The Sunday Times said its allegations were the result of a three-month investigation that involved speaking to more than 50 sources in the National Health Service and the government about the health service’s response to the epidemic.
As a result, they decided to prevent “large numbers of elderly and frail patients” from going to hospital in the first place, so that the intensive care wards are not overcrowded, which means many patients die of Covid-19 at home or in care homes, she added. The Sunday Times said paramedics and hospitals have been told to be more selective than usual about who should be admitted, “with specific instructions to exclude many elderly people.”
Dr Alison Pittard, dean of the College of Intensive Care Medicine, said patients were not denied care. “Throughout the first wave of Covid-19, the NHS’s critical care capacity, which remained available to everyone who would benefit from it, was not exhausted,” she said.
The Sunday Times reported that of the 59,000 excess deaths in England and Wales in the first six months of the pandemic, only 8,000 occurred in hospitals, while 26,000 were in care homes and 25,000 in private homes. It also claimed that the “age-related vulnerability outcome” requested by Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, played a major role in the alleged policy of refusing care.
A spokesperson for the Intensive Care Association said, however, that while a group of experts had worked to develop guidelines for clinicians on identifying which patients should be prioritized for admission, it was “ subsequently discontinued on March 28-29, 2020, with the Department of the health Welfare or implementation of the NHS, after a capacity review and the course of the pandemic. “
NHS sources insist that “NHS hospitals have not run out of intensive care beds, so there has never been a need to refuse any treatment based on the capacity of the NHS. There has been conclusively no comprehensive national decision to refuse to provide care for any group of people, including on The basis of their ages. “