Patients are usually transferred from an ICU when they are able to breathe on their own and no longer need the other specialist skills of the ICU team.

Where the patient is moved will depend on the nature of their illness or injuries. Most patients are transferred to a ward within the hospital. Some patients will require further specialist help to assist their recovery. For example, if a patient has a serious head injury or a spinal injury, they may be transferred to a unit which is equipped to deal with their particular needs.

There will be fewer nurses, procedures and less equipment on a ward compared with an ICU because a patient does not require them any longer. The more "normal" atmosphere is an important step towards recovery and rehabilitation.

Talk to the nursing and medical staff if you or your relative is worried about the transfer.

All patients that have been on the ICU are visited within 24 hours of their discharge from the unit. This visit is normally carried out by our Critical Care Outreach Team. Long term Follow-up Clinics are also carried out for patients after their hospital discharge.


Sometimes patients are transferred from the ICU to specialist units to receive treatment that cannot be provided at St Peter's. This includes cardiac, respiratory, neurosurgical and liver specialist care units. These tertiary referrral centres are located around London and are contacted early in the patient's stay if their assistance may be required. A careful transfer plan can then be implemented and the patient transferred as safely as possible. In some instances a team may come from the centre to collect the patient e.g. for Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation  (ECMO) treatment in cases of severe lung failure.


St Peter's Hospital has been working closely with nearby units to design and run a course specifically to address the complex needs of patients requiring transport. More details on this can be found at