Critical Care units across Scotland deal with approximately 43,000 of the most seriously ill patients a year, in Intensive care units (ICU), High Dependency units (HDU) or combined Units. Of these admissions around 14,000 are into ICU or combined units and around 28,000 are into HDUs. There is strong demand for these services in the evening and at weekends, with around 20% of admissions happen on a Saturday or Sunday and a third happening overnight (between 8pm-8am).
While there is no national Quality Framework for Critical Care, there are relevant standards from a number of UK wide professional bodies - such as the Intensive Care Society. In addition, the Scottish Intensive Care Society have an agreed set of Quality Indicators.
Patients with clinically urgent or emergency care needs have access to Critical Care units 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at present. However available data such as that from the Scottish Intensive Care Society Audit Group suggests a degree of variation in the way care is provided across the week
The National Planning Forum has recently considered the current critical care position and whether further action is required to ensure the sustainability of the service on behalf of NHS Board Chief Executives. Following consideration of an initial Critical Care Stocktake report Board Chief Executives have asked for its findings to be taken into account through the Scottish Government's work on the development of a National Clinical Strategy. We will wish to link to this work as it develops.