Deliberative democracy and scarce NHS resources

A project that I worked on over the summer involving Kings College London and Ipsos MORI has just published its report, examining public attitudes to intensive care resource allocation during a potential second wave of COVID-19 (the work being done before the potential became rather more actual).   The core purpose of the project, involving four deliberative workshops, was to dig deeper than either sound-bites or pure theoretical exercises in ethics allow.   The extent to which the participants were willing to grapple with the issues involved was both humbling and also (at least to me) suggests that ‘the public’ are willing to engage in much more sophisticated discussions about hard decisions that may need to be made than they may be given credit for.  Alongside this, much remains to be done both to support ordinary clinical decision-making in extraordinary times, and to make clear more broadly how those ordinary decisions are taken (see also this article in the British Medical Journal).

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