Intensive care


The intensive care unit (ICU), also known as critical care or intensive treatment unit (ITU), is where patients who are critically ill in hospital are cared for.

Our intensive care units at Barnet Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital have 24-hour consultant cover by a specialist in intensive care medicine and all care is consultant-led. Each consultant is supported by a team of junior grade doctors who are at different stages of their training. A senior nurse leads each shift on each unit, and a number of other members of staff are involved in the care of patients on the unit.

We have strict infection control measures in place, and all staff, patients and visitors are required to follow these.

About our ICUs

We’ve created a series of short videos to provide you with more information about our ICUs and what to expect if someone you know needs intensive care at the Royal Free London.

Introduction to our ICUs

This video provides information on: ICU staff members (00:29), why patients come to ICU (2:20), organ support (3:07), tubes and lines (4:14), medication (5:47)

Communication between patients and relatives/friends

Please be advised, specific information around changes we have had to make due to the pandemic is available in our COVID-19 and care of patients on the ICU video below

This video provides information on: Visiting ICU (00:00), video calls with relatives (00:53), motivational boards (1:03), communication with medical team (1:25), additional family support (2:10)

COVID-19 and care of patients on ICU

This video provides information on: Personal protective equipment (PPE) (00:19), why patients come to ICU (00:41), Ironing (00:55), visiting during Covid-19 (01:18)


This video provides information on: Weaning from organ support (00:01), tracheostomy (00:35), emotional and psychological support (1:44), rehabilitation (2:30)


This video provides information on: Research and recruitment into trials

Royal Free Hospital ICU

The ICU at the Royal Free Hospital comprises 34 intensive care beds. Over 1,500 patients are admitted to the Royal Free Hospital ICU each year. ICU is normally divided into two unit: the intensive care unit and the higher dependence unit (HDU). The ICU beds at the Royal Free Hospital are located in the three intensive therapy wards situated on the 4th floor of the hospital. The ward consists of three wings: south, east and west. The higher dependency unit is located on the 2nd floor, near the planned investigations and treatments unit (PITU).

The Royal Free Hospital is a major tertiary referral centre for medical and surgical specialties. The critical care directorate provides services to support all our in-patient specialities including hepatobiliary surgery, hepatology, complex vascular surgery, infectious diseases and haematology. The Royal Free Hospital has an active organ transplant programme and the department of intensive care medicine cares for more than 70 liver transplant recipients each year.


Do you have an appointment?

Find your ward

  • Barnet Hospital

    Intensive care unit
    Barnet Hospital
    Wellhouse Lane
    EN5 3DJ

    Intensive care unit/high dependency unit north
    020 8216 5298 or 020 8216 5299

    Intensive care unit/high dependency unit south
    020 8216 4120, 020 8216 4115, 020 8216 6030 or 020 8216 6027

    Family liaison telephone number
    020 8216 4050 (available 8am-8pm, seven days a week for all enquiries)

    Email address: (this inbox is monitored between 8am-8pm, seven days a week)

  • Royal Free Hospital

    Intensive care unit
    Royal Free Hospital
    Pond Street
    NW3 2QG

    ICU contact number
    020 7794 0500 extension 24545 (available Monday-Friday, 9am-6pm)

    Email address (this inbox is monitored Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm; we endeavour to respond to enquires sent between these times within 24 hours).


Referral details

We welcome 24-hour consultant to consultant referral.

The Team