Preliminary findings from what is expected to be one of the largest reviews of hospital care delivered during the pandemic have been presented at the Royal College of Physician's Medicine 20121 conference.

The ongoing review by the RCP has so far found approximately 97% of care for patients with COVID-19 was acceptable, good or excellent.

However, the pandemic looks to have exaggerated the variability of care delivery and advance care planning. 

Dr John Dean, the RCP’s clinical director for quality improvement and patient safety, said: “My colleagues in the NHS have been faced with unprecedented challenges during the pandemic but the RCP COVID-19 Study shows how almost all care provided has been of the right standard. 

"We can, however, learn from excellent care, and variations in care,  just as we can learn from poor care. 

"I am looking forward to the completion of  this review and providing practical recommendations to help patients, staff and the health service.”

Other issues highlighted are the importance of early palliative care treatment, the impact of COVID-19 infections picked up in hospital – including when being moved within a hospital – and stresses involved with intensive care and visiting guidance.

Another preliminary finding is that survivors of COVID-19 were 10-15 years younger than those who died.

Eleven of the 40 NHS Trusts taking part in the study have already returned their data, representing a catchment population of 4.5 million, 11,200 COVID-19 cases and 3,380 COVID-19 deaths.

Themes emerging include end of life care, escalation of care, communication, admission, multi-disciplinary teams, palliative care and senior review.

The study is using a modified Structured Judgement Review (SJR) methodology so the care of patients who survived COVID-19 can also be included.

It will eventually lead to recommendations for the NHS. 

It is expected to be completed early in 2021 and NHS Trusts not already participating are still welcome to do so.

Royal College of Physicians