17 May 2024

A new dedicated space has opened within our critical care unit for the enhanced recovery of some patients after cardiac surgery.

The enhanced recovery unit (ERU) is intended for people who are predicted to be in critical care for fewer than 48 hours following their operation, before being discharged to the surgical ward.


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Former patient Sue officially opened our new enhanced recovery unit alongside her surgeon Mr Jason Ali.


Enhanced recovery is an evidence-based approach that helps people recover more quickly after having major surgery; prolonged stays in hospital are bad for patients because there is an increased risk of falling, sleep deprivation, catching infections and sometimes mental and physical deconditioning.

It is hoped the new unit will help patients to have a shorter overall stay in hospital, increasing the availability of beds.

These patients, who will be identified before their operations, will benefit from care from a dedicated nurse-led team, supported by a lead surgeon and intensivist.  

Erin Russell, Critical Care and ERU Matron, said: “Our new ERU has the potential to improve patient flow through our hospital, because patients who are able to recover more quickly after heart surgery have a dedicated space in which to do so.

“This should lead to shorter stays in hospital overall, allowing us to care for more patients who need the specialist skills and treatments we provide.

"There will also be positives for staff working in this new unit, all of whom have been recruited internally. The ERU will provide these nurses with the opportunity to develop advanced clinical skills, provide pathways for progression and also give more ownership in a smaller, dedicated team."


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Our critical care team, including nurses, senior nurses and surgeon Jason Ali.


Former patient Sue, 77, who herself made a swift recovery from cardiac surgery at Royal Papworth in October 2023 thanks to the expert care she received, helped to officially open the unit alongside the critical care team and senior leaders.

During her inpatient stay she was cared for initially in critical care and then on the surgical ward, before going home to Whittlesey in Peterborough just six days after her aortic valve replacement.

“It was a privilege and an honour to be asked to cut the ribbon to the new enhanced recovery unit, which will benefit so many people,” she said.

“The staff in critical care and on the ward are so lovely, friendly and relaxed. The treatment I received here was more than first class and I couldn’t have wished for anything better. I can’t praise Royal Papworth enough.”


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Bob was one of the first patients to benefit from the enhanced recovery unit


Bob, from Manningtree in Essex, was one of the first patients to benefit from the new unit.

The 79-year old had a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) and the day after his operation he was discharged from the ERU to our surgical ward on 5 North.

He said: "The nurses were fantastic. I can remember them doing their checks and monitoring me all the time, which was very reassuring. I’m very impressed with the whole setup.

“The new unit is a very good idea and hopefully I’m one of the first of many who will benefit from it.”

The enhanced recovery unit has been a collaborative effort between multiple clinical and non-clinical teams across Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Thank you to everyone who has been involved.