EoE Clinical Senate Council – The Regional COVID-19 Pandemic Response and System Learning – Ethical Considerations (December 2020).
Clinical Senate Council came together with a group of invited clinicians to consider ethical issues in relation to the transfer of both critically ill emergency care pathway patients and patients needing urgent elective treatment, from one hospital or one region to another for treatment. Whilst the question had been raised in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the principles discussed would generally apply. Patients are transferred every day from one hospital to another, usually in order to ensure more specialist treatment. However, the COVID pandemic has placed unprecedented pressure on critical care beds with many critical care units operating well above their usual capacity.
In discussion, the panel considered how medical ethics principles, including the four pillars of medical ethics, and the NHS Constitution and values, could be applied to the transfer of a patient to another hospital either to make way for another patient or to provide treatment that had been delayed or suspended at the patient’s local hospital.