Infant incubator

CWH FT open Adult and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS FT (CWH), and its charity CW+, have unveiled the expansion and redevelopment of their Adult and Neonatal Intensive Care Units at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

This will make treatment possible for more than 2,000 critically ill adults and babies every year. In March 2020, they fast-tracked the first phase of the Adult Intensive Care Unit, in order to treat the increased number of patients being cared for in the ICU, as a result of Covid-19.

With construction phases complete, the capacity of the new ICU unit has increased by 45%, enabling the trust to care for an additional 500 patients per year.  This also meant that the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) also expanded by 40%, which helped provide specialist care to 150 more babies every year, as well as providing better clinical space and family facilities. 

 The trust has been able to develop world-class ICU facilities, with a first-of-its-kind patient-led approach to care, following funding from the charity, Julia and Hans Rausing Trust and other donors.

Lesley Watts, Chief Executive Officer at CWH, said: “This is a really proud moment for our trust and a huge achievement, especially during these challenging times.  So, many people have been involved in the redevelopment and I can’t thank our staff, partners, CW+ and incredible donors enough for helping create this pioneering, modern and patient-centred critical care service in the UK. 

 “The new Julia and Hans Rausing ICU has already played such an important role in helping to deal with the pressures of Covid-19, and the expansion reinforces the hospital’s reputation as a centre of excellence and innovation.  We are proud that we can extend our level of care to help treat hundreds more critically ill adults and babies each year.”

The objectives of the new unit include methods to significantly improve the recovery and wellbeing for critically ill patients’, through the creation of optimal healing environments and incorporating the latest innovations and digital solutions, that can be personalised to reduce anxiety, pain and stress. 

This follows on from extensive research carried out on the acoustics, lighting, layout and furnishing, selected for the patient’s brain, body and senses to rest and heal more effectively. The patient-focused environment includes, media screens to allow engagement with the hospital’s arts in health programme, and contact with family and friends, noise-reducing equipment, and the latest sensor technology to monitor patients’ health, progress and environment.  

Chris Chaney, Chief Executive Officer at CW+, said: “We launched our £12.5m Critical Care Campaign in 2017 to help transform our ICU and NICU and are indebted to our supporters who enabled us to achieve our fundraising goal in just two years. We are so incredibly grateful to our friends, partners and the local community who made our shared vision to create these world class facilities come true. 

 “These new facilities bring together our core strengths in digital innovation, environment and design, and testing and scaling the latest clinical technologies. Our ongoing research and evaluation will continue to inform the all-important work we are doing today whilst taking us forward into a new phase of health and care service design.”

The NICU unit has also expanded to increase the number of cots, and additional space and privacy around each one. This is so staff can treat babies with their parents close by, as well as reducing the risk of infection, where premature babies are particularly vulnerable. 

 The unit is equipped with the latest technology to facilitate improved healing conditions for babies, including adaptive circadian rhythm lighting, which matches the needs of human biological cycles, that can be individualised for each baby. 

This allows the trust to deliver improved clinical outcomes, by reducing costs, improving efficiency, and reducing risks for patients, as well as influencing and setting a new benchmark for critical care facilities throughout the NHS nationally and internationally. 

 For further information, visit 

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NHE May/June 2024

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