Intensive Care in Australia and New Zealand

The Australian & New Zealand Intensive Care Foundation

Intensive Care is the life support centre of all major hospitals.
Australians have a 1 in 2 chance of requiring an Intensive Care admission at some stage during their life. This will affect the lives in every Australian family, usually more than once.

None of us know when a parent, spouse, child or friend will unexpectedly need intensive care.
This can be a sudden, severe, life threatening illness and have a gut-wrenching effect on family.
It requires bedside nursing & medical skill & vigilance, often on the spot decisions, and of course always requires round the clock care.
If you have been in an intensive care, you will know what VIP treatment you receive

In Intensive Care we see young patients with life threatening injuries after car and other accidents.
We see major burn victims who may need months in Intensive Care. We treat patients who get another lease on life from a heart or lung transplant.  We manage patients with flu or COVID pneumonia who need a ventilator and if they become too sick for a ventilator, we put them on a lung bypass external circulation device called ECMO

Australia leads the world in survival from Intensive Care and has done so for many years now.
Our current death rate is 8%. This is less than 2/3 of that predicted by the world standard of 13%

– that’s 92 % survival which equates to an additional 10,000 lives saved each year compared with that world standard.

This was shown again during the pandemic where Australia had the best survival rate in the world in patients with COVID-19 who required intensive care. The world average death rate for this was 45% but our death rate was way below that at 10%.

This is not simply due to putting healthier patient in Intensive Care. There is based on a validated and internationally accepted system the enables survival rate to be compared with a predicted rate for each patient group.  Thus, the results are adjusted for differences in illness severity

This is an extraordinary achievement and has not happened by luck
It is due to the organisation, hard work and dedication of intensive care medical, nursing and ancillary staff, all focussed on best patient care with the goal of the best survival rates and best quality of survival.

The Australian & New Zealand Intensive Care Foundation (ICF) has played a critical role in these achievements

It has 4 main roles

  • it funds young investigators who would not otherwise get funding – 80% later become major investigators
  • it funds pilot studies which are usually a pre-requisites for major trials 
  • it provides start-up funds for major trials – usually required by major granting bodies
  • it also promotes ICU awareness, education and some training

During the last 30 years the Foundation has supported >140 projects and awarded almost $5M in funding. This has been a major factor in enabling our Clinical Trials Group to obtain >$200M in funding from major granting bodies.
This process engages the whole intensive care community, including those not directly involved in research, and brings about higher standards of care all directed towards higher survival.

And as a result of this, and the contributions of Intensive Care Foundation, the standards have become higher & higher.
We agreed on a goal, over 20 years ago to establish best practice in all ICUs and increase survival.
And this has happened – we have progressively increased survival.
Over the last 20 years, our death rate has almost halved from 15% to 8% – an extra 14,000 survivors each year compared with 20 years ago.
And again, we are world leading in intensive care survival.

This is a fantastic achievement

Appendix 2
However, we cannot just say “OK we are on the top now, we don’t have to do any more”
We have to maintain that excellence and continue improving.
Our focus is not only on improving survival but also improving the quality of survival

We are planning to raise $10 million. So why do we need this?
Our government funds good intensive care?
But It doesn’t fund the excellence that we have achieved and that will give you or your family a much better chance of survival and a better survival!
Imagine if you have a child or loved one in intensive care – would you want good care or world leading excellent care
That is what you will be supporting.

Money raised will be put in a protected investment fund that will grow & award its earnings.
This will continue funding research indefinitely, not just for the next few years, and without the uncertainty of annual fundraising

We are also proud that not 1 $ of the funds raised will go to fundraising overheads – every $ raised will go into the fund to support the Intensive Care survival plan.

None of the campaign or ICF overheads will come from donations to this campaign
The Fundraising committee and the ICF Board members all work on a voluntary basis 
Fundraising event overheads are all funded by the Fundraising committee members 

The running costs of the ICF are paid for by it’s affiliated groups 
The Australian & New Zealand Intensive Care Society (ANZICS, which formed the ICF in 1990) provides office space and office staff assistance to the ICF at no cost to the ICF.
The College of Intensive Care Medicine (CICM) provides funding to the ICF
Our part time Fundraising Manager is paid from these funds and not from donations to the ICF

Prof David Tuxen
Chairman, Intensive Care Foundation Fundraising Committee
Director of Intensive Care, Northeast Health Wangaratta, 

Appendix 1
Prof Sandy Peake, who is now head of the Clinical Trials Group, is a great example of this.
She started by receiving Foundation funding as a young investigator for a study on resuscitation of patients with major infection, septic shock. That study was instrumental in her, and her colleagues, being awarded a $2.5M grant to successfully conduct a large multinational trial on the best way to resuscitate patients with septic shock. That trial changed international practice guidelines.

Professor Peake has gone on to successfully conduct a number of other large trials, some of which have also received Foundation assistance, that have further improved how we care for critically ill patients. She has received nearly $20 M in funding from major granting bodes and is now the first female Chair of the Clinical Trials Group, which is also a world leader in critical care research.
There is no doubt that the success of her career began with that first small study funded by the Foundation. 

Appendix 2
We now lead the world in Intensive Care achievements!
We lead the world in Intensive Care standards and in Intensive Care research
We have conducted the largest trials in the world and have more Intensive Care publications in major journals than any other country.