A NEW intensive care unit containing 48 beds could be built at the John Radcliffe Hospital, providing a huge boost to the number of seriously ill patients it can accommodate.

The planned 48 bed unit, built as a new five-storey building on the hospital site, would triple the number of ICU beds in Oxford.

According to the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust website, there are currently 16 dedicated adult ICU beds at the hospital, out of a total of 24 in the city alongside others in the Churchill Hospital.

However, during the pandemic, other beds have also been used for intensive care.

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A planning application for the scheme has been submitted to the Oxford City Council website.

According to a statement attached to this, the extra room would not just be important for Oxfordshire, but for surrounding counties too.

This is because the newly-created Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care System (BOB ICS) 'urgently requires increased critical care capacity to cover the South East region'.

The plans were already in the pipeline before the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK, but the statement goes on to say 'an urgent requirement for an increase in capacity was identified in spring 2020 in anticipation of further waves of Covid-19 and to meet the identified demand.'

It also said: "Given the ongoing nature of the pandemic, the increase in critical care capacity must happen at speed."

The new five-storey building would be built where a building called the Barnes Unit currently stands, right in the middle of the JR site.

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While the plan is currently in its early stages, the new ICU building would have 12 beds on the ground floor, 18 on the first floor and another 18 on the second floor if built.

The beds would be arranged in a 'race-track' formation according to the planning application, sitting around the edges of the room so patients would have some exposure to natural light from windows.

On the fourth and fifth floors there would be staff and maintenance areas.

Areas surrounding a car park to the north of the building would be set aside for construction crews and equipment while work takes place.

Just last summer the JR opened its most-recent expansion: a newly extended emergency department.

This part of the building now has extra room for patients, providing them with more space and privacy, as well as room for an additional six ambulances.

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A spokesperson for Oxford University Hospitals said: “We are working hard on the construction of a new critical care unit at the John Radcliffe Hospital to support future pandemic and seasonal pressures, as well as improve critical care facilities at our hospital.”

The trust said it plans to release more details soon.

To find out more about the planning application, visit oxford.gov.uk/planning and search for the reference 20/02983/FUL