Northampton General: New critical care unit prepares for first patients

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New critical care unit
Image caption,
The rooms in the new critical care unit can be sealed to prevent infections spreading

A new critical care unit, designed with the experience of the Covid pandemic, is preparing for its first referrals.

The 16-bed unit at Northampton General Hospital cost £15.9m and will offer round-the-clock care for the most vulnerable patients.

It includes special isolation rooms as well as space for relatives to stay and sleep close to loved ones.

Care lead Sarah Masterson said: "The old unit is 50 years plus old. We've outgrown it".

The new department will be a dedicated critical care ward, replacing the current intensive care and high dependency units.

Image caption,
Sarah Masterson said the new unit was complete different from the old facility

Ms Masterson, the lead operating department practitioner, said staff were included in every step of the design process.

"We ended up cutting up little bits of paper and, like a bit of jigsaw puzzle, tried to make everything fit in a way that would work for us clinically," she said.

She said the old unit was "small and dark", the "complete polar opposite" to the new unit.

Image caption,
Chief executive Simon Weldon said patients and families will get the care and support they need

Although planning for the unit started before the pandemic, the experience of Covid-19 influenced it design, the hospital's chief executive Simon Weldon said.

Patients will be cared for in individual spaces that can sealed to prevent infection spreading, and the unit also has five specialist isolation rooms.

Mr Weldon said: "A modern hospital needs to be designed so staff and patients can have the experience they need."

Image caption,
Helen Vickers wanted to help make a new relative room after her experience when her husband was in the old unit

About £10,000 towards the relatives' room was raised by Helen Vickers, whose husband Mark was treated in the hospital's intensive care unit in 2019 before his death.

She said the previous unit had "no space for relatives and was difficult for the staff, patients, everybody".

Through the occupational health company the couple worked for, friends and family raised the money which was put towards the new unit when work started in 2020.

The new unit will open later this summer, the hospital said.

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