Jim Down

Balancing Risks in the ICU

Whether we like it or not we all face risks every day. We delegate a proportion to our subconscious and rationalize others, but all too often the threat can feel overwhelming.

So how should we ensure that our approach to risk is both logical and healthy?

Jim Down will examine his career as an anxious doctor looking after the sickest of the sick in intensive care (including victims of Ebola, the London bombings, a train crash and radioactive poisoning by the Russian state) to examine his own relationship with risk. He will explore what he has learnt, how his approach has changed and what impact it has had on his own mental health.


An ICU Specialist

Dr Jim Down is a consultant in Intensive Care and Anaesthesia at University College London Hospitals and author of two books; ‘Life Support, Diary of an ICU Doctor on the Frontline of the Covid Crisis,’ (2021) and ‘Life in the Balance, A Doctor’s Stories of Intensive Care.’ (2023). He chairs the Hospital Guidelines Committee and the departmental weekly scientific meetings and is consultant representative on the Trust Wellbeing committee. He was previously divisional director of the Intensive Care Unit and chair of the consultants’ group.

In the course of a thirty-year career he has attended a train crash, treated victims of the 7/7 London Bombings and looked after poisoned Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko. Alongside his clinical work during the Covid pandemic he was appointed Hospital lead for medical ethics.

He lives in North London with his wife and fourteen-year-old twins and can be found most mornings shivering in the changing rooms of his local Lido.

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