Our Services

Critical Care

Our Critical Care department provides life sustaining treatment to patients with severe life-threatening illnesses and to patients after major surgical procedures.

A large part of what makes Critical Care, is that if admitted a patient will either have a nurse looking solely after them, or alternatively, after them and one other patient, dependent on how unwell they might be at the time.

In addition to this, Critical Care often focusses on providing what we term ‘organ support’. Essentially, when significantly unwell, a patient may develop a struggling organ system, for example their kidneys, or their heart. We use medications and mechanical equipment that support the struggling organ system.

These medications and equipment typically cannot be used on a general ward, and this too is therefore a big element in what makes critical care what it is.


All patients are cared for and managed by a multi-professional team dedicated to delivering safe, high quality care, supporting families with compassion and understanding during what can be a very difficult time for friends and families of a critically ill patient.

For relatives of patients admitted to our critical care, we very much understand how stressful it can be having a relative in our care. As medical and nursing staff, we will continue to provide updates regularly, and will involve you as key decisions are made.

These videos are intended for patients and the relatives of patients admitted to our critical care ward, and aim to provide some information about what we do on critical care, and why we might need to do it for you or your relative.


A common reason for a patient needing to come to critical care is respiratory failure, which is when the lungs are not able to take in enough oxygen for the body’s needs.


Induced Coma

The term induced coma is commonly used to describe the state of sedation  that some patients on critical care are temporarily placed into, most commonly in order to facilitate therapies like going onto a ventilator.


A tracheostomy is a procedure that is performed on some critical care patients, in order to aid their recovery from a period of prolonged mechanical ventilation.

Sepsis and Lines

A common reason patients are admitted to hospital is due to infection. Sometimes, there is a clear source of the infection, for example a chest infection, also known as pneumonia or a urinary tract infection, also known as a water infection. In other cases, it may be less obvious.

Sepsis and Lines

Renal replacement therapy

One reason a patient may need to be admitted to critical care would be for something we call renal replacement therapy, also commonly called ‘filtration’. This is a treatment using a machine that effectively does most of the job of the kidneys for a period of time, similar to what many people call dialysis.


Delirium is a condition that affects a patient’s thoughts, perceptions and levels of awareness. It is sometimes referred to as an acute confusional state, and is extremely common in patients admitted to critical care, affecting 2 in 3 patients.

Cardiac Arrest

One reason you or your relative may need to be admitted to critical care would be following a cardiac arrest. A cardiac arrest is an event when for various causes, a patients’ heart will either stop beating, or beat in an uncontrolled rhythm that does not generate any blood pressure.


Please note that all videos were filmed on site, on the Critical Care Unit. All patients have been anonymised. The majority of photographs included are from our Critical Care, although occasional stock photos have also been included.

Our Critical Care Outreach team works with the team on the unit to make sure that each patient’s treatment, care and experience is of the highest quality. They act as a link between critical care and the wards to make sure that patients get the right level of care regardless of their location.

The main difference between Intensive Care (ICU) and High Dependency Care (HDU) is the nurse to patient ratio. Usually an ICU patient requires one to one nursing care, whilst a high dependency patient requires one nurse to every two patients.

In contrast, on a normal ward two qualified nurses often care for up to 30 patients between them.

Service locations

Royal Bolton Hospital

Key contact numbers

Critical Care

Tel: 01204 390997

Meet the team

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