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Moving Critical Care to its new home…

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The relocation of Critical Care Services has been the most exciting and exhilarating moment in my career, I am really proud to have been part of a team that has demonstrated that any challenge no matter how big or small can be overcome just as long as they are working together.

On joining the Countess team as Lead Nurse & Manager for Critical Care just over a year ago I remember my first encounter with the Chief Executive, standing in a coffee queue in the Education & Training Centre on my induction, Tony introduced himself and welcomed me to the Trust. I couldn't believe it, a Chief Executive entering into a friendly chat with me about my new role and all the exciting changes that were happening across the organisation. I remember thinking wow, this is going to be a fab place to work and everyone is so inviting and friendly. The one comment that stayed with me was ‘…we value the creativity of the critical care team, don't place any restrictions on yourselves, this new unit is going to be with us for a long time to come, so think about what we will need in the future.’ No pressure then Tony!

When I met the critical care team I was overwhelmed within the first few weeks at the welcome and support I received, my nursing team have been great in engaging with the development and embracing the challenges it has brought. The clinicians have also been very supportive in making the plans a reality. When I sat down for my first 1:1 session with Santokh Singh (Lead Clinician for Critical Care), he said “I hope you don't mind but I have made a few notes on the things I would like to discuss.” When I pulled out my own note pad I had the same things on my list....perfect match!

It is clear to me that the culture at the Countess is to work in partnership with each other, seeking out inspirational ideas and facing any challenge alongside the hospital wide team. I could give you a number of examples to demonstrate this during the time I have been here but the one that stands out the most is, the build management team and how they have engaged with the clinical staff throughout the programme to really ensure that the new unit meets the needs and expectations of our patients. There were no debates over cost vs quality, only discussion around what our patients actually need to deliver the best quality care, although I knew I was probably asking for a little too much when Kevin Eccles said he was going to have me put on a poster around the Trust with MOST WANTED, £100,000 over spend! It will feel very strange after the time I have spent with them during the build not to see them most days. Alan, Kevin, Andrew it has been fab working with you all and I hope that you will put the kettle on now and again so we can have a catch up?


The new unit offers so many benefits to our patients and relatives, it has a purpose built 100% side room facility, this will allow the critical care team to overcome a number of challenges with infection prevention and control, maintaining privacy and dignity as well as preventing sleep deprivation and the associated effects this has on prolonging recovery following critical illness.

There is also a relative’s suite which has been provided by the Countess staff and the people of Chester through local fundraising. This is a unique development within our network for adult critical care services and it means we are now able to provide a place for relatives to rest whilst they are experiencing one of the most traumatic events of their life.

We are one week after moving in and the staff are still smiling from ear to ear, commenting that it would be impossible to go back to the old unit now. The new environment has lifted morale and placed a real value on the work that they do.

There were many team members that were sceptical as to whether the new unit would open right up until the day we moved. Santokh recalls the day of his interview a good few years ago, when he was shown around by a Consultant Anaesthetist who was retiring, the retiring consultant explained that there was a future plan to build a new unit, when Santokh showed his interest the retiring consultant said 'don't worry they have been taking about it since I started!' One of the senior sisters Barbara Wood remembers the new unit being discussed when she was pregnant with her son, when I asked Barbara how long ago was that? She replied ‘He is 10 years old now!’

The critical care team has been praised by many over the last week for their great achievement in relocating the unit, but I have to say that the thanks needs to be extended hospital wide to all the supporting services that helped to make this happen, to name but a few; Estates, EBME, Facilities, Stores, Pharmacy, Therapies, Dietetics, Infection Control & IM & T. Well done to all, we have shown the NHS at its best, onwards and upwards and.......what's the next challenge? This is only the beginning!

About the Author

Tony image

Chief Executive of Countess of Chester NHS Foundation Trust.

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