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‘I don’t want to choose who’ll get into ICU and who won’t’

Hospital doctors are being told that they should admit only cancer patients and those at risk of dying  

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Doctors at work in the Covid intensive care unit of a hospital. Picture by Jens Schlueter

Doctors at work in the Covid intensive care unit of a hospital. Picture by Jens Schlueter

Doctors at work in the Covid intensive care unit of a hospital. Picture by Jens Schlueter

The chief executive of the Saolta hospital group had been at his desk since 6.30am on Friday. By 9am, Tony Canavan and a team of hospital and clinical managers were crunching numbers. By lunchtime, he had drafted an email and circulated it to all hospitals in the group.

The essence of the email was an instruction that runs counter to what medical care is all about: doctors should admit only cancer patients and those at risk of dying to the region’s hospitals.


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