Critical Care

Critical care is a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week speciality providing elective and emergency care to Royal Marsden patients suffering from, or identified as being at risk of multi-organ failure.

The Critical Care Unit (CCU) at our hospital in Chelsea opened in August 2010. It is one of the largest cancer critical care facilities in the United Kingdom and Europe.

The 16 beds in the CCU are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. There are seven isolation rooms, including two dedicated teenage and young adult rooms, a fully interfaced clinical information system and high-end patient entertainment facilities. Patients are frequently admitted following major surgery or for the management of underlying health conditions, cancer or cancer-related treatment. The CCU admits on average 1,400 patients a year and has one of the best survival rates for cancer critical care patients in the country. There is a two-bed Step-Up facility at our Sutton hospital where patients at risk of organ failure are transferred for intensive physiological monitoring and resuscitative care. Patients requiring ongoing support are then transferred to our Chelsea hospital using mobile intensive care facilities.

Following discharge from the CCU, patients continue to be followed up by the Critical Care Outreach Team to enable a smooth and safe transfer to more traditional ward-based care. Patients who are discharged from hospital after critical care are routinely invited to the Critical Care Follow-up Clinic.

The visiting times for the Critical Care Unit are flexible but we recommend that you visit between 11:00am-12:30am and 2:00pm-8:00pm. If a patient is very unwell or unstable, accommodation for relatives can often be arranged locally. We ask that only two visitors are present at a patient’s bedside at any one time to allow staff to provide the care required.


The critical care unit regularly participates in multi-centre trials and supports a number of research projects aimed at increasing our understanding of the effects of different medicines and intensive care treatments on the immune system and cancer. We hope in the future this might help improve the outcomes of patients suffering from malignant diseases who are admitted to intensive care units for the treatment of organ failure.

Critical care medical team

We have a dedicated team of 7 critical care consultants and 10 junior doctors supported by a medical lead. The Unit is accredited for intensive care medicine training by the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine. We also have 2 advanced critical care practitioners who support the medical team and participate in the medical on call rota. The department has an excellent team ethos and has regular weekly multidisciplinary team meetings to enhance patient care.

Critical care nursing team

The team of over 90 critical care nurses are specifically trained in cancer critical care, and are led by the critical care Matron.

The environment is exciting and supportive, and facilitates the development of specialised oncology and intensive care nursing skills. The aim is to provide the very best technical and emotionally competent nursing care possible.

Multidisciplinary team

The wider multidisciplinary team includes a dedicated critical care pharmacist, a dietitian, a team of physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, a medical microbiologist, symptom control team and complementary therapies. We have a weekly rehabilitation round where we access and review each patients rehabilitation needs.

Core staff

For further information

To find out more about the Critical Care Unit, contact Margaret Pietrzyk, Matron Critical Care, at