About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland and the Scottish Intensive Care Society Audit Group provides a summary of the activity, interventions and outcomes of critical care services in NHSScotland.

The full report is available on the Scottish Intensive Care Society Audit Group (SICSAG) website.

Main points

  • Two units were shown to have a mortality rate of significantly below the Scottish average. No unit was found to have a significantly higher mortality rate compared to the rest of Scotland.
  • Overall night time discharges were at a similar level to previous years. However, there is still a wide range of average night time discharges between the units.
  • Early discharges remain consistently low; however, variation is seen across the units with some having an average significantly above the Scottish average.
  • Delayed discharges from critical care continue to be a challenge for units, with patients experiencing delays mainly due to a shortage of beds in other areas of the hospital.
  • One unit was shown to have statistically significant lower delays than the Scottish average.


Critical care units are specialist hospital wards for the most severely ill or injured patients. They treat patients with a high level of complexity, with two out of three patients requiring the most advanced levels of support. This audit includes all Intensive Care Units and the majority of High Dependency Units in 2019 in NHSScotland. It is not possible to provide an accurate figure on the number of High Dependency Units due to differing provisions across all specialties and Health Boards however it is believed that more than 95% of all High Dependency Units participate in this audit. The audit covers over 46,000 patients admitted to critical care units in NHSScotland during 2019.

The Scottish Intensive Care Society Audit Group aims to improve the quality of care delivered to critical care patients by monitoring and comparing activities and outcomes. The audit of critical care is a co-ordinated quality improvement programme which provides data, analysis and feedback to raise standards and continued improvement in patient outcomes.

Further information

The full report including detailed excel tables and previous publications can be accessed on the SICSAG Annual Reports (external website) page on the SICSAG website.

Further information can be found on the Scottish Intensive Care Society Audit Group website (external website).

The next update of this publication will be in August 2021.


General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.sicsag@phs.scot.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

If you require publications or documents in other formats, please email phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

To report any issues with a publication, please email phs.generalpublications@phs.scot.

Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 21 March 2024
Was this page helpful?