An enhanced care unit (ECU) is due to open at Barnet Hospital next month – offering patients an additional level of care to that provided on a ward but who do not need to be seen in ICU.

Patients who might be cared for in the ECU include those with sepsis, renal failure and those who have had a diabetic or neurological emergency.

The unit, which will be based on Quince ward, will open in phases with the first four beds due to open on 4 April.

A further seven ECU beds will open at a later date. As part of the changes and to ensure appropriate patient flow, the remainder of Quince ward, and the adjacent Maple ward, will care for respiratory and acute medicine patients. Meanwhile, Walnut ward has become a health services for elderly people (HSEP) ward.

The level of care is defined by NHS England as 1.5 - a step down from a high dependency unit (level 2) and an intensive care unit (ICU) (level 3).

Nursing staff are currently being trained to work on the ECU, including how to deliver continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), tracheostomy care and non-invasive ventilation to patients.

Sarah Stanley, medical director for medicine and urgent care at Barnet Hospital, said: “We are really pleased to be opening an ECU at Barnet Hospital. It will allow us to ease the pressure on both general wards and ICU. As patients recover, they can be stepped down to ECU before they go to the ward.”

 Ali Rhodes, clinical lead therapist for respiratory, surgery and critical care, said: “We’re really looking forward to establishing a new multi-disciplinary team to provide the care for these patients who need a bit more support. It should have a really positive impact on the way we deliver care.”