Trends in Intensive Care for Patients with COVID-19 in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland

James C Doidge, Doug W Gould, Paloma Ferrando-Vivas, Paul R Mouncey, Karen Thomas, Manu Shankar-Hari, David A Harrison, Kathryn M Rowan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rationale: By describing trends in intensive care for patients with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) we aim to support clinical learning, service planning, and hypothesis generation.Objectives: To describe variation in ICU admission rates over time and by geography during the first wave of the epidemic in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland; to describe trends in patient characteristics on admission to ICU, first-24-hours physiology in ICU, processes of care in ICU and patient outcomes; and to explore deviations in trends during the peak period.Methods: A cohort of 10,741 patients with COVID-19 in the Case Mix Program national clinical audit from February 1 to July 31, 2020, was used. Analyses were stratified by time period (prepeak, peak, and postpeak periods) and geographical region. Logistic regression was used to estimate adjusted differences in 28-day in-hospital mortality between periods.Measurements and Main Results: Admissions to ICUs peaked almost simultaneously across regions but varied 4.6-fold in magnitude. Compared with patients admitted in the prepeak period, patients admitted in the postpeak period were slightly younger but with higher degrees of dependency and comorbidity on admission to ICUs and more deranged first-24-hours physiology. Despite this, receipt of invasive ventilation and renal replacement therapy decreased, and adjusted 28-day in-hospital mortality was reduced by 11.8% (95% confidence interval, 8.7%-15.0%). Many variables exhibited u-shaped or n-shaped curves during the peak.Conclusions: The population of patients with COVID-19 admitted to ICUs, and the processes of care in ICUs, changed over the first wave of the epidemic. After adjustment for important risk factors, there was a substantial improvement in patient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)565-574
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021


  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • COVID-19/epidemiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Critical Care/methods
  • England/epidemiology
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality/trends
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units/statistics & numerical data
  • Length of Stay
  • Middle Aged
  • Northern Ireland/epidemiology
  • Pandemics
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Wales/epidemiology


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