Intensive therapy unit (ITU)

What we do 

We provide specialist care for patients with a variety of heart and lung conditions. This may be overnight recovery after you have come in for surgery or longer if you require intensive support and management. 

We are leaders in our field and conduct active research into the best ways of caring for patients in ITU. Our unit is staffed by experts in surgery, anaesthesia and critical care.

Our ITU has 24 beds with an additional seven recovery beds. 

If you are coming in for an operation

Patients booked for an elective operation will be invited to attend an education day and offered the opportunity to attend the pre-admission clinic, at the hospital. During the day, patients will receive information related to their operation and recovery.

An anaesthetist will assess all patients prior to their operation. They will be pleased to answer any questions regarding the operation and subsequent recovery.

How we care for patients

Each patient within the unit will be attached to a monitor that will record various observations needed to assess their recovery. Patients may be sedated and their breathing supported by a ventilator.

They may also have numerous infusions administering medication. Having a relative in intensive care can be distressing for family and everything that is happening to the patient will be fully explained by the nurse caring for them.

The unit is extremely busy and, at times, noisy environment because of the numbers of staff involved in caring for a patient.

Who looks after our patients

Each patient has a registered nurse allocated to their care who has critical care training and experience.

During the day there will be several visits to each patient by our 'multidisciplinary team' – a group of staff with specialist training in different fields, who work out the best treatment through consultation. 

In addition, all patients are also regularly assessed by a physiotherapist, pharmacist and dietitian.

Visiting hours

The unit hours are between 11 am and 1 pm and 3 pm and 7:30 pm. Alternative visiting arrangements can be made if necessary.

There will be occasions when relatives may be asked to leave the bedside and wait outside the clinical area. These occasions would include ward rounds, handovers between staff, when some nursing or physiotherapy treatment is being carried out or if a neighbouring patient requires special attention during that time.

Unfortunately, flowers and plants are not allowed in the intensive care unit or high dependency unit. This is because standing water can be a breeding ground for bacteria and maintaining an infection-free environment is our priority. 


Ground floor, Harefield Hospital, UB9 6JH

Telephone: 01895 828 685/2
Fax: 01895 828 963

Matron: Sue Mather - Critical care matron