Our busy and highly specialised Critical Care Unit provides expert care for the sickest patients in the hospital. We admit patients after surgery, directly from the general wards, and also from the heart attack centre.

In addition, we are experienced in providing care for the most complex heart and lung patients and frequently admit patients from other hospitals, both within the East of England region and from all around the country.

Our 46-bed Critical Care Unit comprises:

  • Six cardiac recovery (CRU) beds, dedicated to the care and treatment of patients for the first 24 hours following open heart surgery.
  • Twenty-seven critical care beds provide a flexible level of care for patients who require ongoing and more complex treatment and support.
  • As a tertiary and national referral centre, the unit also admits patients needing mechanical support such as extra corpreal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), treatment for heart failure, and following transplant and pulmonary endarterectomy (PEA) surgery. In addition we treat patients with cardiothoracic emergencies, e.g. aortic dissection and chest trauma.

The unit is separated into a north and south side, and each of those areas are divided again to form four sections which allows for cohorting of patients with different levels of dependency. The corridors are curved which means no sharp corner or tight turns when transporting a patient within the unit, or into/out of the unit. 

Each room is individual with glass doors and curtains separating it from its neighbouring two rooms, which means both privacy for the patient but also an ability for staff to 'break out' into the adjoining room in case of an emergency. 

A nursing team of more than 200 nurses, led by two matrons and 11 sisters / Critical Care practitioners (CCPs), provide continuous specialist nursing care. Critical care is staffed on an aim of providing a 1:1 nurse to patient ratio, but our ratio of registered nurses (RNs) to patients here at Royal Papworth Hospital is regularly under 1:1, at 0.9:1 or 0.8:1. 

Medical care is led by dedicated consultant intensivists supported by a multidisciplinary team. This team includes referring and specialist consultants including intensivists and anaesthetists, specialist nurses, healthcare support workers, physiotherapists, pharmacists, dieticians, speech language therapists, occupational therapists. 

Enhanced ventilation rooms

Our critical care department is also home to a number of enhanced ventilation beds with ante room, which are used to cohort patients with infectious diseases such as tuberculosis (TB) and influenza (flu). You can see one of these rooms below.