Critical care services

NHS England publishes detailed plans to meet increases in demand for critical care services

NHS England has published detailed plans setting out how it will coordinate a strategic response to increasing demand and capacity pressures in critical care during the winter months, and in the event of a pandemic.

The publication of a set of standard operating procedures is in line with the organisation’s responsibilities as a direct commissioner, as set out in the Health and Social Care Act.

The individual documents describe a consistent national approach to the management of a potential increase in patients using the following services:

  • Adult critical care services
  • Paediatric intensive care services
  • Burns services (adults and children)
  • Adult respiratory extra corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) services
  • Paediatric respiratory extra corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) services

NHS England is the sole commissioner for the five services, with the exception of adult critical care services, which are jointly commissioned by both NHS England and by Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).

Each standard operating procedure sets out background information about the service; the way in which information about bed capacity is collated; information about the providers of some services; the role of each organisation in managing capacity pressures, and actions required should the demand for capacity begin to rise.

The documents will be reviewed regularly and updated, where appropriate.