Informing ethical deliberation around ventilator allocation in the pandemic

Professor Dominic Wilkinson

PI:  Professor Dominic Wilkinson

Aim: to provide rapid, timely, relevant input into policies for ventilator allocation in the UK and overseas.

  • Funded by Oxford's Covid 19 Research Response Fund 

  • Duration: 8 months

  • Starting date: 19 April 2020

Overview

The burning ethical question raised by the COVID-19 pandemic is how to care for large numbers of patients simultaneously becoming critically unwell. In Italy, intensive care services were overwhelmed, and clinicians were forced to make extremely difficult choices in the absence of clear guidance. Modelling suggests that other health systems, including the NHS, will be similarly affected.  There is a need for ethical guidelines on how to allocate treatment, but such guidelines are highly controversial and depend crucially on which values to incorporate (Savulescu et al). There is no existing information about views of the UK general public on these questions. It will constitute the first part of an international collaborative study and will be used to provide rapid, timely, relevant input into policies for ventilator allocation in the UK and overseas.

Investigators

Professor Dominic Wilkinson (Director of Medical Ethics, Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics)

Professor Julian Savulescu (Director, Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics)