Patients & Visitors

Critical Care Unit: ICU and HDU


Patient & Visitor Information

About Critical Care

Our patients are admitted to the Critical Care Unit for various reasons, sometimes planned (e.g. after scheduled surgery) but often as an emergency, from the hospital wards or Emergency Department. A critical illness can cause failure of organ systems (such as the heart, circulation or breathing) and Critical Care involves close monitoring and treatment to support these organs. Each individual patient will have different medical needs and so the particular treatments and methods of organ support given will vary widely.

Our dedicated team of specialist doctors, nurses, therapists and support staff will provide care of the highest standards. We will always endeavour to communicate clearly with your loved one and their next of kin and will ensure that their wishes our paramount when making decisions about their care.

Visiting on Intensive Care during the COVID-19 pandemic

In the current situation we have had to restrict visiting within the hospital, including to patients on our Intensive Care Unit. We will always do our very best to allow a visit but, in line with national guidance, we have introduced some strict rules to protect patients, visitors and staff. Unfortunately, there will be some situations where a particular visit cannot be safely allowed.

All visits must be undertaken in a careful, COVID-secure way.

Please read our guidance on visiting below:

If you are visiting Dept B12 (map):
Visiting B12 Intensive Care during COVID-19

If you are visiting Dept B36 (map):
Visiting B36 Intensive Care during COVID-19

Facilities for visitors

Please feel free to use our waiting room, inside the main doors of the Unit.  Hot and cold drinks are available and toilets are opposite.

If it is difficult for you to get home and you would prefer to stay overnight, we do have some limited accommodation available. Please ask your nurse about this possibility. We can also provide you with advice on car parking, options for eating in the hospital and other local facilities.

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Infection control

Please use the hand gel every time you enter or leave the unit, to minimise spread of infection. If we need you to use any other method of hand cleaning or precaution, this will be explained by the nurse at the bedside.

Hand hygiene leaflet

Please do not visit the unit if you are unwell. If you have had diarrhoea or vomiting, please do not visit the unit until 48 hours after your last bout.

Unfortunately, flowers cannot be brought onto the unit, as they pose a risk of transmitting infection. Cards or photos are fine.

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Keeping in touch

We will do our utmost to ensure that you are kept up to date on your loved one’s progress. We will of course communicate directly with the patient if they are well enough and will also liaise with whoever is recorded as ‘next of kin’. With the patient’s (or next of kin’s) permission, our nurse will be able to provide information to other family members & friends. The doctors will also provide family members with regular updates; please let them know should you wish to schedule an additional meeting.

The purpose of the ward-rounds which take place twice daily, is to assess and plan management of our patients and so to avoid disrupting these, we aim to schedule meetings and updates at other times during the day. Please note that to protect the confidentiality of your loved one, we are not able to provide clinical information over the phone.


We have several iPads available on the unit, for patients to use to aid communication and for their entertainment. Please do let us know if you feel that your relative would like to use one.

Patient Diaries

If a patient remains on a breathing machine for over 3 days, the staff will commence a ‘patient diary’ that you will be able to write in. Some patients find that this is a useful aide memoire during their recovery.

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We encourage children over 5 to visit their loved ones, accompanied by a responsible adult. Please liaise with your nurse to organise this in advance so that we can provide support.

Children visiting ICU leaflet

Information for parents of children visiting ICU


There is only limited space for storing patients’ property on the unit. We do encourage you to bring in toiletries for your relative/friend. For long-stay patients, we recommend that more personal items are brought in, such as pictures and audio devices.

Cameras / mobile phones
Please do not take photos of patients: they cannot consent and as such, this is a breach of the individual’s right to privacy and confidentiality. We ask that you do not use mobile phones on the unit.

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Going to the Ward

As the condition of your friend/relative improves they will no longer require the specialist skills of the Critical Care team.  At this point, they will require a less intensive environment and so will be moved to another ward in the hospital.  Usually this happens during the working day, but very occasionally. this may take place overnight.  During the transition period, they will continue to me seen by the Critical Care Outreach nurse, who will work with the nurses on the new ward to monitor the patient’s progress.

Outreach leaflet

If a patient dies

Despite all the best efforts of the Critical Care team, unfortunately some patients continue to deteriorate and die.  If this happens, we will support you and other members of the family and will give you all the information you require at this difficult time.  We work closely with the hospital’s Patient Affairs Team , who are very experienced at dealing with this situation.


At this stressful and challenging time, whether religious or not, many patients and families ask for support from our hospital chaplains.  They are available at all times of day and night and are only too pleased to be involved, if you or your loved one would like this. Do please ask your nurse to give them a call, or visit the beautiful new Spiritual Care Centre located on the crossroads of Zone C & D on the ground floor.

Some useful links

Intensive Care Society

NHS advice about Intensive Care

ICU Steps: the Intensive Care Patient Support Charity

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