Different Staff Groups in Critical Care

When you come into Critical Care to visit a relative or friend, you will notice that there are different staff groups that work in the department. The information below will help to explain the different staff groups and their role in caring for our patients.

Medical staff

Senior Doctor

There is a senior doctor in charge of the ICU at all times, this is the consultant. Our consultants generally cover the intensive care unit for a week at a time but you may meet different ones during the stay. It may be concerning to see different faces but the consultants hand over to each other in detail and will know all about your loved one.

When they meet you for the first time they will often take time to recap the condition and progress and establish what you understand of matters so far. Many of our consultants are consultant anaesthetists, but they can be from other backgrounds. They are sometimes called intensivists as well.

Junior Doctors and Medical Students

We are proud to support and train the next generation of doctors within our critical care units.

There will be a number of junior doctors working on the unit, they range from trainees in anaesthetics and acute medicine to doctors undertaking specialist training in intensive care medicine. There is always a doctor covering the unit 24 hours a day, ready to respond to any emergencies.

We also regularly welcome medical students on the units to learn about critical care.

Nursing staff

Senior Nurse

There is a senior nurse in charge of the unit at all times, called a sister or charge nurse. They have in depth knowledge of the current patients, and the plans for their treatment. They support the other nurses working at the bedside and co-ordinate the unit’s activities for the day.

Staff Nurses

There will be a number of bedside staff nurses, these nurses will care for your relatives throughout their stay. The sicker patients will have their own dedicated nurse, for high dependency patients one nurse will look after two patients. If possible the same nurse will look after the patient day to day to keep continuity for the patient and their family.

Healthcare Assistants

In addition there may be a healthcare assistant on the ward. These staff are vital for the running of the unit. They keep the unit stocked with the various disposable equipment and supplies that are needed to care for critically unwell patients. They also help keep the unit clean and tidy and help the nursing staff with basic patient care.

Outreach nurses

These are senior ICU nurses who are trained to assist ward nursing colleagues with sicker patients, and with patients recently discharged from the critical care unit. Your relative may meet them before their admission to intensive care, if not they will be visited on discharge to the ward. Your relative may also be invited to our rehabilitation classes or support group.


From time to time there might be student nurses and doctors attached to the unit. This is a valuable learning experience for them, and they are always fully supervised whilst on the unit.


The physiotherapists review patients on at least a daily basis, helping them with their breathing, and in time with moving and mobilising. They provide exercises to rebuild muscle strength and balance.

Other team members


The pharmacist visits the unit often and offers advice on how to give the best medication in the safest way.


The dietician helps to ensure that the patients are receiving adequate nutrition to meet their body’s needs via the best route.

Medical Equipment Technician

The medical equipment technician is responsible for maintaining the complex equipment in the unit, and performing checks and repairs to ensure patient safety.

Domestic Staff

The domestic staff are vital for ensuring that the unit is kept clean at all times. Please let them or the staff know if you have any concerns about cleanliness.

Other people who might visit the unit

Visiting specialist doctors might include the patient’s own doctors such as their operating surgeon, or others that the ICU team would like the opinion of regarding the patient, for example cardiology or microbiology doctors.

Visiting specialist nurses include tissue viability nurses for patients with bad wounds, stoma nurses, infection control nurses and speech & language therapists when the patient is having difficulty swallowing or speaking.

The radiographer takes x-rays on the unit with a portable x-ray machine.

Porters often come to the unit to bring supplies, help with moving patients around the hospital and to take away specimens to the lab.