European Society of Intensive Care Medicine MEDIA RELEASE; For Immediate Release - Europe's Increasing Patient Demand on Healthcare: EU Parliament - Policy Debate
MEDIA RELEASE - For Immediate Release— 
May 22, 2012
"The time to act is now": Europe’s leaders alerted to increasing patient demand for intensive care 
BRUSSELS: May 21, 2012—Several leading medical experts voiced their opinions during a Policy Debate centred on Improving Patient Outcomes in Intensive Care held at the European Parliament May 15th. One of the key cautionary messages:  If the way the healthcare system is organised does not evolve quickly, and current staffing levels in intensive care remain, Europe will not be able to adequately manage the next pandemic, much less treat the current population which is becoming older, sicker and more demanding every year.
“Currently, Europe lags behind the US in terms of resources—human and institutional, to deal with this vital growing need for acute and critical care in the coming years,” said Dr. Andrew Rhodes, President of the European Society of Intensive Care (ESICM) and a UK-based clinician. “Lack of recognition of the importance of intensive care and the specialty training it requires has a major impact on the level of care we can provide patients and influences overall outcomes.”
The policy debate, organised by ESICM, in collaboration with the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) and hosted by MEP Cristian Buşoi (ALDE; Romania), was geared at raising awareness of the field within the EU Parliament, whose members are in the process of drafting and enacting several key directives which directly affect those professionals working in Intensive Care and influence patient outcomes.
“Making the link between the providers of intensive care and the EU healthcare agenda is essential,” said Dr. Buşoi. “Because intensive care is the most expensive, technologically advanced, resource-intensive area and decisive area of medical care in that patients are in life-threatening situations—we must look beyond just the costs and see that by making an investment in intensive care, we are making a vital investment in the future of Europe and its’ citizens.”
Several high-ranking members and National Societies representatives were on hand to highlight issues and the current status of intensive care in their countries. Dr. Cornelius Bartels, a Senior Expert in Bioterrorism at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reflected on the impact of epidemics or highly threatening infections on consumption of staff resources. He noted that in his home country, Germany, each isolated patient required round-the-clock care of five doctors and eight nurses. He stressed that the special multi-disciplinary training of intensivists (intensive care specialists) made them the best choice in treatment of epidemics and infections, “ICU professionals have the most comprehensive knowledge of disease and processes and they deal with nosocomial infections and antimicrobial resistance on a daily basis,” explained Dr. Bartels. “This is a specialty that deserves recognition and investment in anticipation of emergent needs in care.”

The patients' perspective: A particularly poignant moment of the debate was when H1N1-flu survivor Laura Wagner spoke about her experiences in intensive care. She was six months pregnant when she contracted the flu in 2010, and spent nearly two months in a Paris intensive Care Unit.
“High intensity, hands-on care,” said Dr. Rhodes. “Patients tell us and statistics prove that while technology has helped outcomes over the long-term, machines cannot do it alone. To meet the needs of critical patients of the future, to deliver a high level of care, we need more well trained staff— doctors and nurses at the bed side.”
The policy debate marked the launch of a two-day exhibition and campaign in support of the LIFE-Priority Fund (an ESICM initiative) at the EU Parliament aimed at heightening public awareness about the importance of intensive care. The exhibition showcased critical care equipment and practitioners were on hand to train EU members, staff and the public life saving techniques including CPR. Thousands of participants received training and visited the Wheels of LIFE; a fully-equipped mobile intensive care that was located in front of the EU Parliament for the two-day event.
European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM) is a non-profit international association of individual members. ESICM’s objective is the advancement and promotion of knowledge in intensive care medicine, in particular the promotion of the highest standards of multidisciplinary care of critically ill patients and their families through education, research and professional development.

Europe Public Health Alliance (EPHA) is a change agent – Europe’s leading NGO advocating for better health. We are a dynamic member-led organisation, made up of public health NGOs, patient groups, health professionals, and disease groups working together to improve health and strengthen the voice of public health in Europe.

LIFE Priority Fund is an initiative of ESICM which aims to make a difference in the lives of the sickest and most vulnerable patients through better science, better education and improved outreach. Through various events and fundraising initiatives, the LIFE-Priority Fund supports the following objectives: Research into better strategies for managing acutely ill patients; education of caregivers, and programmes to improve the experience received by patients and their families whilst in the ICU.

For More Information:
European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM)
Sherry Scharff, Communications Manager - Tel: +32 (0)2 559 03 77 or
Europe Public Health Alliance (EPHA)
Javier Delgado Rivera, Communications Coordinator - Tel: +32 (0) 2 233 3876 or