Clinical Service

Critical Care

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What we do

Critical care units are specialist hospital wards that provide treatment and monitoring for people who are very ill. They are sometimes called intensive care units (ICUs) or intensive therapy units (ITUs).

Critical care is needed if someone is seriously ill and requires intensive treatment and close monitoring, or if they're having surgery and critical care can help them recover.

Most people in critical care have problems with 1 or more organs. For example, they may be unable to breathe on their own.

There are many different conditions and situations that can mean someone needs critical care. Some common reasons include:

  • a serious accident – such as a road accident, a severe head injury, a serious fall or severe burns

  • a serious short-term condition – such as a heart attack or stroke

  • a serious infection – such as sepsis or severe pneumonia

  • major surgery – this can either be a planned part of your recovery, or an emergency measure if there are complications.

Patients in critical care will be looked after closely by a team of specialist staff and will be connected to equipment by a number of tubes, wires and cables. This equipment is used to monitor their health and support their bodily functions until they recover.

Critical care outreach team

The critical care outreach team support ward staff with critically ill patients. We support and respond to patients who are:

  • stepping down from a period of critical illness

  • showing clinical signs of deterioration.

If you have noticed a decline in you or your loved one’s condition, you should always report this immediately to the healthcare staff on the ward.

If you are concerned about the decline in condition that has been reported but not addressed by healthcare staff on the ward, see our Call 4 Concern service.

Visiting a critical care unit

Visiting hours are usually very flexible, but there may be times when visiting is not advised, so it's a good idea to check before you arrive. The number of people allowed around the person's bed may be limited.

To reduce the risk of spreading infection, you'll be asked to clean your hands when entering and leaving the unit and you may not be able to bring in certain things, such as flowers. Avoid visiting if you're ill.

The critical care staff will be on hand during your visit to answer any questions you have.

Critical care units can often be an overwhelming place, both for the patient and their loved ones. You can find out more about what to expect when visiting someone in critical care.

Our critical care units

We have three critical care units across our Trust. These are:

How to use this service

Patients are admitted to critical care by another service, such as accident and emergency care.