Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU) at Harefield Hospital


Ellen Dunthorne, critical care matron
Ciara Collins, critical care matron 

The intensive therapy unit has 24 beds, with an additional seven recovery beds. Staff care for a variety of cardiology, transplant and surgical patients. 

Patients are admitted to the unit from theatre, the primary angioplasty service and from other hospitals.

The unit also cares for patients requiring: 

  • extra corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)
  • intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP)
  • renal replacement therapy (RRT)
  • management of ventricular assist devices (VAD) 
  • complex respiratory support
  • Impella
  • Total Artificial Heart (TAH)

The majority of patients stay on the unit for one to two days after their procedure, although those requiring ongoing support and intervention may stay longer. 

While on the unit, all patients will have a trained nurse allocated to them, who will receive support and guidance from the sister/senior staff nurse in charge of the shift.

The unit is supported medically by a consultant intensivist, as well as a team of specialised anaesthetic registrars who provide 24-hour cover. 

Allied health professionals, such as physiotherapists, pharmacists and dietitians, also provide essential input to patient management.

We have a well-established induction and mentor programme for all new nursing staff to facilitate the development of clinical skills. This is led by our practice education team and includes both unit-based and classroom teaching.

The majority of the unit’s nursing staff work long days (7:45 am / pm – 8:15 pm / am).

Working on Harefield Hospital's ITU

Watch the video below to hear from our staff about what it is like to work on the intensive care unit, the types of care and treatment given to patients, and the different opportunities available to staff to develop practical skills in and knowledge of critical care.