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Researchers at the University of Oxford are investigating the long-term health outcomes for patients who have been treated for severe COVID-19 disease in intensive care.

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To date, over 12,000 patients have been treated on an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for very severe COVID-19 disease. Around 60% of them have survived to leave hospital, after an average of 11 days of care. Scientists are not only unclear on the long-term effects of the disease itself; they also know very little about the impact of a stay in ICU on these patients.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the Oxford Critical Care Research Group (CCRG) had developed efficient approaches to systematically follow up ICU patients over the long term. Their approach involves linking data from the Case Mix Programme, to which ICUs report, to multiple other routine healthcare data sources, through NHS Digital.

This new study funded by The University of Oxford's COVID-19 Research Response Fund will look at key six-month health outcomes in patients who survived severe COVID-19 in England. It will provide timely data on additional risks faced by survivors that might be mitigated by specialist or community follow-up.

Stephen Gerry, Senior Medical Statistician at NDORMS commented: "Understandably, due to the incredibly large numbers of people affected, more attention is being given to the long term prospects of patients who have had severe COVID-19. This is an exciting project, because uniquely we will be able to follow all patients who have been discharged from ICUs in England, Wales, or NI, having recovered from COVID-19. It is a great opportunity to gain a clear understanding of what will happen to these patients, and we hope that our research will help inform clinical practice."

It is hoped that this initial study will lead to further research on longer-term follow-up, with a wider range of patient outcomes.