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 our heart attack pathways. 

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. 

The critical care unit at Royal Papworth Hospital
One of four quadrants of our Critical Care Unit, with single side rooms and curved corridors 

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(s) 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

In addition to the standard bed spaces, 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). 

An enhanced ventilation bed with ante room


Critical Care teaching team 

Our Critical Care teaching team consists of experienced critical care nurses and healthcare support workers who are specially trained in supporting staff and students in providing high quality, expert care to our patients and their loved ones.

Our proven curriculum is designed to support staff from a variety of backgrounds and is flexible to meet individual needs.

Staff are able to learn in a range of face-to-face study days with support from their peers as well as a new online learning platform and virtual classrooms.

They also support the ongoing learning and professional development of all critical care nursing staff. Working in a continually changing and evolving service, it is important to continually improve and update skills. Most nurses working on critical care go on to further education, completing masters-level critical care courses at a variety of local universities. 

We also offer placements to student nurses and nursing associates from local universities as well as elective placements from those further afield.