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Transferring from critical care to the ward environment – for patients and their loved ones

Patient information A-Z


This leaflet provides information for patients and their family to understand why they are being transferred from critical care to a ward environment.

Why is a patient transferred

There will be some patients in critical care who will be transferred to one of the wards in the hospital. This can be for a variety of reasons and the decision for their transfer is made by the critical care Consultants on the critical care unit.

We will always aim to discuss this with patients and their loved ones in order to explain the reasons for transfer. The environment on a general ward is very different to that on the critical care units for example the patient will no longer receive care on a one-to-one basis.

The ward that the patient is transferred to will be appropriate for their needs, but this change can still feel daunting as patients and loved ones can sometimes feel that they are receiving less medical and nursing intervention care in a ward area. It is understandable that patients and loved ones may feel anxious about this step, especially if the stay on critical care has been prolonged; and you may find it useful to speak to your critical care nurse about this. Before a patient is transferred, the team caring for the patient on the ward will receive a thorough handover from the critical care staff.

We aim to transfer patients to the ward during the day when more staff are available to help patients settle in, however this is not always possible. Staff on critical care will inform loved ones of the ward transfer so they have the correct details.

The main differences between critical care and the ward environment

  • Staff on the general wards will be caring for more patients at one time than on critical care. Patient needs will be addressed by the ward staff, but they may take longer to respond to requests/ patient buzzers and may seem not as “visible” as the critical care staff.
  • Patients will not have such a high level of monitoring on a general ward and this will be reflected in the plan of care from the medical and nursing teams.
  • If a side-room had been provided on critical care for patient privacy, this provision is unlikely to be possible on the ward as there are fewer side rooms on the general wards.
  • The patient’s primary Consultant remains unchanged from critical care, and ward-based Doctors will manage the patient’s day-to-day medical care with input from other specialist teams as necessary.
  • As the patient is on critical care, it is still important that you communicate with the ward staff if there are any concerns or additional requirements.

Patient’s new ward……………………………………………..

Ward phone number………………………………………….

Visiting times 11am – 8pm

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151