New unit will future-proof Barnsley intensive care

Work is now completed on Barnsley Hospital’s new £7.3m Intensive Care Unit (ICU). This is a landmark for Barnsley in terms of future-proofing the town against current and future demand for intensive care beds, and is a milestone in Barnsley Hospital’s capital development projects.

Press release
An intensive care bed is surrounded by equipment

The unit increases capacity from the hospital’s pre-pandemic 7 critical care beds to 16 (plus 8 escalation bays).

The new unit will also enhance patient experience and wellbeing with more appropriately sized and spaced out beds, better lighting and décor, as well as enhanced provisions for patient privacy. These factors all contribute to shorter stays, quicker discharges, and speedier recoveries in general.

One of Barnsley Hospital’s strategic goals is to be “Best for patients and the public”. Hospital Chief Executive Richard Jenkins commented: “We’re investing heavily in our facilities right across the Trust. These critical care beds will not only expand our capacity to care for the most poorly patients, but will help relieve some of the pressures elsewhere in our hospital and allow our teams to ensure their patients receive the best possible treatment and care.’’

Intensive Care Lead Nurse Laura Limb stands proudly in the new unit

Laura Limb is an Intensive Care Lead Nurse at Barnsley Hospital who worked through the worst of COVID. She is frank about the general public’s perceptions of the life-saving work she does. “Nobody really wants to know too much about critical care and the things we do, if they’re honest,” she says. “There is a lot of emotion and turmoil in what we do and that came to the fore through COVID.”

Before COVID, the seven-bed Intensive Care Unit was on the hospital’s ground floor. Laura explained: “We had wanted a new unit for some years because we needed the capacity and there were other issues like a lack of natural light. When COVID hit, the entire unit had to move up to floor 5 and take over two general ward areas, not ideal for an Intensive Care Unit, but we had to find a makeshift solution during the pandemic.”

The hospital critical care teams are looking forward to moving into their new ICU on the ground floor at the front of the hospital. The ICU is now co-located with the Surgical High Dependency Unit (SHDU), which is not only an effective use of resources, but will also improve patient journeys in an appropriate and safe care setting. It will have more storage and ancillary spaces for all the activities of a modern critical care unit.

The new multi-million-pound unit has more space for each bed, providing a more useful environment for all the people and activities necessary to support the most poorly patients in the hospital, with clinicians more easily able to use specialist equipment directly at the bedside. This extra space will provide for delivery of physiotherapy and critical care rehabilitation at the bedside in line with national health guidelines.

Barnsley Hospital’s Clinical Director for Surgery Dr Tim Wenham said of the new unit: “This project is great news for both our patients and our staff as this high-quality, purpose-built unit will allow us to provide the best possible care for our patients. In addition to the massively improved space and environment there is also the huge safety advantage of greater proximity to theatres, radiology and the emergency department.”

The new unit has been planned with people’s wellbeing in mind – staff will have an area to relax and eat, as well as a suite of offices, changing facilities and showers.

Patients will have access to natural light and will, for the first time in Barnsley Hospital, be able to use a dedicated outdoor courtyard designed exclusively for patients in the ICU. Evidence indicates improved patient wellbeing leads to a shorter ICU stay, speedier recovery, and earlier discharge.

Relatives will also have improved facilities and more space, closer to their loved ones. There is a welcoming reception area and dedicated space for relatives to use at what can often be a difficult time for them.