Within the first year, 50% of ICU patients will be readmitted to hospital, resulting in not just greater resource utilisation, but also a greater loss of working and school days for patients and their carers. This was recognised as a public health issue in 2009 by NICE, although surveillance in 2018 noted that only 27.3% of organisations reported any form of post-critical care follow-up of patients, and 6.8% reported the availability of a rehabilitation programme.
On, Friday 22nd April 2022, University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust (UHP) welcomed Sir Gary Streeter into the critical care departments, in his role as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Intensive Care. His visit included a tour of the department, led by clinical staff along with the opportunity to speak to patients.
The Critical Care team felt it was crucial for Gary to see the complex challenges our patients face, both whilst they are in critical care and also during their onward recovery journey. Whilst at the hospital, Gary had the chance to see the ICU rehabilitation in action.
80% of the 162,000 patients admitted to intensive care units in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2019 - 2020, were discharged from hospital. Nevertheless, this survival comes with significant physical, emotional and social costs. A third of working-age patients still need help with basic activities (going to the toilet, getting out of bed, getting dressed) for up to one year after leaving intensive care. Additionally, 50% are unable to work again due to suffering with cognitive impairment similar to early Alzheimer’s disease.
The visit was arranged by Kate Tantam, Specialist Sister in ICU, whose aim, as a committed patient advocate, is to improve patient services and experience across the country.
Kate explains, “We are truly dedicated to supporting the Intensive Care Society and the APPG team in their quest to understand how to improve patient services across the UK. The journey of the patient does not end once they are discharged from our care. It is important to stress that stepping patients down after stays in critical care is challenging and rehabilitation and recovery is another whole chapter of the story. By prioritising and humanising the critical care environment is how we can make a real difference”.
Speaking after the visit, Gary explained: “As both Chair of the APPG for Intensive Care and as a local MP, I found my visit to UHP critical care departments incredibly engaging and informative. It is clear that Plymouth and the surrounding area is very fortunate to have such an innovative team of nurses, therapists and doctors leading on their rehabilitation project in critical care.”
He added, “The APPG has heard what it is like for patients leaving intensive care and the challenges that this brings, but we have also heard what a significant difference the rehabilitation provided by the critical care team to patients including those asleep and on ventilators, can make for their long-term recovery. To see how this work is carried out for myself has provided even more motivation to push ministers to ensure critical care rehabilitation is adequately funded and available in more of our towns and cities across the country.”
*In photo: Councellor Rebecca Smith, Volunteer Louise Gaille, Sister Kate Tantam, Consultant Therapist Jude Fewings and Sir Gary Streeter