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Intensive care unit (ICU)

What we do

The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is where we care for patients who are extremely sick and need constant close monitoring and support from staff, machines and medicine to keep normal body functions going. It can be quite an intimidating place to visit as people here are very sick and often need a lot of machines to help them.

We were rated ‘good’ overall with ‘outstanding’ for caring by the Care Quality Commission in 2019.

We won the ‘team of the year – contribution to outstanding care’ award at BSUH’s Patient First Star Awards in 2019.

Visiting hours

Visiting hours are between 2pm and 7.30pm, although you may be able to arrange different times with the nurse in charge of the unit if these hours are difficult for you.

The ICU doesn’t have adequate facilities for relatives or friends to stay overnight. Overnight stays are only possible in exceptional circumstances and following discussion with the nurse in charge.

There is a list of nearby overnight accommodation available. Please ask the ward clerk or nurse for further details.

Who can visit?

We ask that visiting is limited to immediate family and special friends to prevent the patients from getting over-tired. Visitors are limited to 2 per bed, due to a lack of space and to not disturb the other patients.

Children can visit the unit, but only under special circumstances and at the discretion of their parents and the nurse in charge.

It is important that you use the hand washing facilities provided at the entrance to the ICU. It is also important that if you are feeling unwell you do not visit the unit.

To maintain patient confidentiality you may be asked to wait outside during doctors’ ward rounds and nurses’ handover.

What to expect

The ICU can be quite a frightening place to visit as the patients here are very sick and need a lot of machines to help them. The unit can be quite noisy, which can be unsettling. There may be beeping noises or even an occasional alarm sound. This is normal and does not necessarily mean something is wrong.

Your relative might look very different as they may be attached to a lot of machines to help the staff monitor their condition or to help them with their recovery. This sight can be upsetting and confusing for visitors to the unit but the staff are there to help you and explain anything you don’t understand.


There are three Intensive Care Units within the Trust. Two are located within the Thomas Kemp tower Block at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, one on level 5 and one on level 7 and one is on the first floor of the Princess Royal Hospital, Haywards Heath.

The Brighton ones can be accessed from the entrance next to A&E but the easiest way to get here is to follow the signs from the main car park.

For Princess Royal Hospital take any lift to the first floor and follow the signs for the Intensive Care Unit.

Further information


We are always looking at ways to improve the services we offer and we would be grateful if you would complete this questionnaire about your relative’s / friend’s admission to Critical Care (Intensive Care Level 5 and Level 7).


Patient information

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