What we do

The Critical Care Unit (CCU) is a highly specialised area within the hospital.

We look after critically ill patients whose conditions can be life-threatening and who need constant, close monitoring and organ support from highly trained staff, equipment and medication.

Our CCU is run and staffed by consultants, specialist doctors and nurses who have undergone extensive training. We are supported by other specialist staff such as physiotherapists, pharmacists, dieticians and speech therapists who may be involved in the patient’s treatment.

We have 24 beds, that meet the critical care needs of the adult population (16 years and over) of East Lancashire and more than 1600 patients are admitted per year.  We use specialised monitoring and machines. The level of care and support that patients require is dependent on the individual illness but can include breathing machines (ventilation), a type of kidney dialysis support (haemofiltration), and multiple pumps to deliver drugs to maintain the circulation and blood pressure as well as deliver sedation and nutrition. Sedation is sometimes necessary to enable some patients to be helped with their breathing but will be the least that is necessary.

The CCU is divided into three areas, CCU A , CCU B and the Post-Operative Care Unit (POCU). We have 16 consultants and 142 nurses supported by physiotherapists, dieticians, speech and language specialists and other specialist nursing teams alongside surgical and medical teams.

Each side (CCU A or CCU B) is managed during the day by a critical care consultant, a registrar and a junior trainee doctor who provide medical care. A senior nurse will coordinate the nursing team who will care for the patients individualised needs. There is a high ratio of nurses to patients within the Critical Care Unit and some patients will need one to one care.

A separate acute care team reviews patients who have recently been discharged from the CCU. They also respond to patients that have been identified as deteriorating on the ward and might need transfer to critical care for a higher level of support.

How to access the service

Patients are admitted either as emergency admissions who have often developed a sudden critical illness and deteriorated rapidly or planned admissions after some complex operations where they require a period of close monitoring.

Patients are admitted to POCU after major surgery and these patients are reviewed daily by one of the critical care consultants as well as their own surgical team. These patients often need closer monitoring for 12 – 36 hours after surgery before returning to the ward for on-going care.

Where to find us

CCU A, CCU B and POCU can all be found on level 2 at Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital.

Ward Manager

Linda Gregson - Matron

Key Staff

Dr Stephen Gilligan - Clinical Director

Consultants:

Dr Matthew Atkinson
Dr Sri Chukkambotla
Dr Sarah J Clarke
Dr Iain Crossingham
Dr Paul Dean
Dr Anton Krige
Dr Peter McDermott
Dr Helen Makin
Dr Carole Pilkington
Dr Justin Roberts
Dr Dominic Sebastian
Dr Robert Shawcross
Dr Ian Stanley
Dr David Watson
Dr James Watts

Senior Sisters/Charge Nurses:

Christine Barnes
David Forrest
Christine Fothergill
Yvonne Helm
Rachael Speirs
Pam Thomas
Alison Yates

General Enquiries

Critical Care Unit - A – 01254 735001

Critical Care Unit - B – 01254 734048

Post Operative Care Unit (POCU) – 01254 732057

Email address: Critical.Care@elht.nhs.uk

Opening/Visiting times

2pm - 4pm

6pm - 8pm

Information for visitors

What to expect on my first visit.

The Critical Care Unit comprises of two sides, ‘Side A’ and ‘Side B’, and a Post-Operative Care Unit (POCU) with a total of 24 beds. We have fantastic facilities and experienced staff to provide the best possible care for your relative.

It is always daunting when you first visit a Critical Care Unit as most people will not have experienced one before. There will be a dedicated nurse looking after your relative and a team of doctors led by a Consultant. Continuous assessments of your relative will take place in addition to a formal ward round. A number of other medical or surgical specialties may also be invited to offer their expertise.

When patients are first admitted to the Critical Care Unit, they will require a period of assessment, stabilisation and individualised treatment planning. This takes time and it is not unusual for us to need 1-2 hours to do this thoroughly so that we can provide the highest quality of care that we demand of ourselves for your relative.

We will try and keep you updated during this time and allow you to see them at the earliest opportunity. At subsequent visits, it is unlikely that you will have to wait for such a long period of time (sometimes up to 30 minutes) but again we must always ensure that we have the necessary time for nurses and doctors to provide care.

All patients are attached to a monitor that shows heart rhythm, pulse and blood pressure. They often receive oxygen from a facemask, or a ventilator (breathing machine) if they need help to breath. You will hear buzzers and see numbers flashing on monitors. Try not to be too unnerved by this. It is quite normal and act as an early prompt to the slightest change in the patient’s condition. The nurse at the bedside will explain all of the equipment when you visit if required.

If at any point you do not understand what is going on or have questions about your relatives condition please ask us. We will always keep you updated. It is not uncommon to forget some of the information that you have already heard. Do not hesitate to ask again if you are unsure.

Hand Hygiene

Please remember to use the alcohol gel on your hands when entering and leaving the unit, to assist with infection control. The gel is available at the entrances to both the 'A' and 'B' side of the unit and in POCU. It is also available throughout the hospital and at the main entrance.

Put one squirt of gel into the palm of your hand and rub hands together quickly until they are dry again (about 30 seconds). 

Mobile Phones

Please turn off your mobile phone and do not use it on the unit. You may use it in the waiting room or outside the Critical Care complex.

Medical staff often use mobile devices including phones to provide mobile resources in the form of “APPs”, don’t be alarmed if they are using mobile devices on the Critical Care Unit.

Is there anything that I can bring?

We have most essential items that our patients will require during their stay on intensive care.

However, some may prefer their own personal items and toiletries such as:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Liquid soap or shower gel
  • Comb or hairbrush
  • Personal toiletries your relative may normally use
  • Aerosol deodorants rather than roll-on varieties due to infection control
  • Razor - if electric please make sure it is fully charged

Flannels and towels can get very soiled or lost so are best left at home. We provide both items.

Items that we do not have and may be very helpful are:

  • Dentures, spectacles and hearing aids to make communication easier
  • Favourite music CD's or photographs are always appreciated

Any other property will need to be taken home, due to lack of space and storage facilities. Anything of value, especially money or jewellery, will be sent to the hospital safe.

Unfortunately we cannot accept fresh flowers or plants as the soil and water can be hazardous to equipment and an infection risk.

For more information please see our visitors leaflet

Discharge information

How long will my relative need to be on Critical Care?

The course of critical illness is unpredictable and your relative's condition may fluctuate widely. Staff will keep you informed of all important changes. The outcome of serious illness and the effectiveness of the treatments we use can often be uncertain as each person responds differently. Some of our patients will only require very short stays with us (less than 24 hours) whilst others may require several weeks or even months of intensive care treatment.

Some patients do not respond as we would hope so that despite our best efforts, sadly, about a fifth of patients will not survive their illness. When it is clear that recovery is impossible and that continuing treatment is not in the best interests of the patient, a consultant will discuss this with you. At this point, after careful discussion with other specialist colleagues, we may decide to refocus treatment and ensure your loved one remains comfortable and is allowed to die with dignity.

While we recognise the need to feel there is always hope, we seek to provide realistic and honest information about your relative's condition and progress in a way which you will understand. As long as there is a chance of survival with a good quality of life we will continue to support your relative with the necessary treatments and care to aid their recovery.

Discharge from Critical Care

Prior to discharge from the Critical Care Unit, we will speak to the receiving team responsible for the ongoing care of your relative. They may already have been involved during the Critical Care period. A thorough handover will take place and a comprehensive summary recording all of the key events during your relatives stay will be produced to help with their ongoing care.

The Acute Care Team will also review your relative on the ward so that they can monitor progress during these initial stages. If there is a change in your relative's condition, the Acute Care Team or the specialty team responsible for their ongoing care will let the Critical Care Team know.

Follow-up clinic

Critical illness can leave some patients at risk of long term physical and psychological problems and when patients leave Critical Care it is only the start of what can be a long recovery process. 

The aim of the Follow-Up Clinic is to provide support following discharge to patients who may be at risk and to manage any complications effectively. 

Whilst attending the clinic patients are given the opportunity to talk about their Critical Care episode, explanations of what happened are given, expected pace of recovery is discussed and patients and relatives have the opportunity to ask any questions they may have. At the end of the clinic the patient is offered the opportunity to visit the Critical Care Unit.

For those patients who feel this may benefit them, referrals to the clinic can be made via their G.P or by emailing CriticalCareClinic@elht.nhs.uk

Memorial days

Memorial Days comprise of a service which is held twice a year in the multi faith room.

The service is a chance for relatives to remember their loved ones who passed away on Critical Care or were sent home on end of life care.

The service lasts approximately one hour and is non-religious. Members of the nursing and medical staff read out poems, there is also a lighting of candles and a giving of white roses, the symbol of everlasting love.

Relatives are invited to bring a large photograph of their loved one which is placed behind the candles at the front of the room and also a small photograph which is placed in the memorial book.

Each family is allocated a page in the book to write whatever they wish. It is available to them at all times.

It is an opportunity for families to grieve and find closure.

Following the service, there is tea, coffee and cake available. Staff are on hand to speak to any relatives.

The service is held twice a year in the multi faith room at Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital.

Research

To find out more about how our research programmes, please go to our research page. 

Information about procedures and treatments

Read more about what procedures and treatments we carry out.