Patients are set to benefit from a new purpose built £11.8million intensive care unit (ICU) at the Royal Free.

The current ICU was created from a ward conversion more than 20 years ago and is housed in two separate areas on the third and fourth floors of the hospital, with staff working across both areas. When fully completed, the new ICU will bring the department together on to one floor and provide a modern, bright environment with much more space. The unit will increase from 31 to 34 beds and provide nearly four times as many individual side rooms for patients who need to be nursed in isolation.  

The first phase of works is now complete and has involved a total gutting and refurbishment of two wards to provide 20 beds. Patients will move into the new facilities this week. 

Dr Steve Shaw, clinical director for intensive care, said: “The new unit is purpose built and provides a modern, bright environment with more natural light. We have doubled the bed space so that there will be approx 25 square metres of bed space per patient. This means we can provide a more pleasant and comfortable environment for our patients and their families and provide staff with more space in which to work.

“The individual side rooms have specialised ventilation systems which allow us to both prevent the spread of infection and isolate patients at risk of infection. We previously had only four side rooms with this technology but the new unit will have 14. This will obviously be of great benefit to patients.”   

“Feedback from our staff has been amazing and they can’t wait to start working in the new environment.”

Staff Nurse Margarita Toumazou said: “As soon as I walked in to the new unit it made me smile. To have this investment in our intensive care facilities is just fantastic and as nurses it makes us feel very valued for what we do. It’s great to see patients and their families benefitting as that is ultimately what it is all for.”

The final phase of work is now underway and is due to be completed by December 2013.      


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The Royal Free attracts patients from across the country and beyond to its specialist services in liver, kidney and bone marrow transplantation, haemophilia, surgery for hepatopancreatobiliary (HPB) conditions, clinical neurosciences, renal, HIV, infectious diseases, plastic surgery, immunology, vascular surgery, cardiology, amyloidosis and scleroderma and is a member of the academic health science partnership UCLPartners.