Critical Care

Critical Care Voices: Staff Nurse Hayley swaps roles in Covid fight

Staff Nurse Hayley in the Intensive Treatment Unit

Staff nurse Hayley Willoughby recently swapped her role from theatres to critical care in order to help colleagues during the first wave of Covid-19 (coronavirus).

After qualifying in 2011, Hayley spent her first few years as an anaesthetic and recovery nurse. When the coronavirus outbreak hit earlier this year, Hayley volunteered to join the critical care team.

She said: “When the pandemic hit the hospital, I thought to myself that people need to help out and I volunteered straight away.

“Even though I have been nursing for many years, I have extra training each week to learn the critical care specialty, but this allows me to look at a patient holistically and have the autonomy to make a number of decisions about patient care.”

Having worked in theatres, Hayley already knew the consultants in critical care as they are also anaesthetists which helped her feel at home straight away

She said: “I work in a small team here and everyone knows everyone and everyone supports each other, especially in challenging times.

“The hardest part of my job at the moment is seeing patients losing their lives without any relatives being present. This is heart breaking, but we ensure that nobody is alone.”

Hayley is looking forward to working on  the new unit. She said: “It is great to be looking forward and making positive changes in the department. I’ve joined the team at the right time as there is lots of change.

“What won’t change though is going home after each shift knowing you have made such a difference to a patient and their family. It’s a huge source of satisfaction.’’


“The care I received was absolutely brilliant – they saved my life.” Eddie’s Critical Care story

A patient who was critically ill in Blackpool Victoria Hospital has been describing his ordeal and determination to make a full recovery.

Eddie Haigh, 49, from Staining, suffered life threatening organ failure through sepsis following admission from a flu-related chest infection.

The father of three ended up being put into an induced coma in February after dialling 111 when he was concerned about breathing difficulties that ended up being pneumonia that left him weak and unable to walk.

He said: “My son and wife were already in bed with flu which I ultimately caught. As they got better, I seemed to get worse to the point where I thought ‘this is really serious’.

“The 111 service sent an ambulance and by this time I couldn’t even walk. I was seen very quickly in the Emergency Department where a Critical Care Consultant stayed with me and told me they may have to put me to sleep. I woke up two weeks later.”

When Eddie started to come around from his coma, that’s when the real trauma set in.

He said: “I became aware of the tubes and wires coming out of me and was fighting for every breath. It was the scariest thing in my entire life.

“I had hallucinations where it seemed that I was being killed and nothing made sense – it was a very frightening time. I don’t think people realise what you go through in this situation and there is nothing you can do to stop it.”

Eddie started his recovery having lost almost five stone and being so weak he was unable to do most things. But he was determined to improve.

He said: “It has taken some time to process what I have been through, but I am getting support with that. It was like being an 80 year-old – even my hair fell out at one point.

“Specialist Physiotherapist Nicky Williams has been really supportive and pushed me quite hard at times. But she has made sure that I have had the therapy I needed to be stronger and to be able to manage at home. I was so desperate to get out of hospital.”

Eddie spent a total of 52 days in hospital following a couple of setbacks in his recovery. He continued to get stronger and now follows an exercise programme that includes using weights and swimming.

Eddie said: “I have definitely built up my strength but my stamina still needs work. I still get exhausted and need a two and a half hour sleep in the daytime.

“What happened to me has definitely changed my life and priorities. I want to give back and hope to set up a blog and support group for others that have been in a similar situation.

“The care I received was absolutely brilliant – they saved my life. Staff even supported my wife Sally through my stay with hugs and kind words when they were needed.

“I was lucky. I had a lot of support from my family. I know not everyone has that and that makes me even more determined to make a difference and help others who find themselves in need of critical care.”

Eddie has just returned to his IT Consultant job on a phased and flexible return basis.

Critical Care Voices: Meet Specialist Physiotherapy Practitioner, Nicky

Specialist Physiotherapy Practitioner

Over the coming weeks, we will be highlighting the roles of the people who work within the Emergency Department and Critical Care as part our Emergency Village and Critical Care Development campaign. Here we meet Specialist Physiotherapy Practitioner, Nicky…

Nicky Williams has an extra special role at Blackpool Victoria’s Critical Care department.

As of of only a few Specialist Physiotherapy Practitioners in the area, Nicky looks after the long-term patients in the Intensive Care Unit, a role she has been performing for the last six years.

Intensive care is needed if someone needs close monitoring after elective surgery or if they become critically unwell and need intensive medical.

A person can lose up to 8% muscle mass in just one day, so the earlier we can start the rehab, the better for the patient.”

Once patients’ conditions have improved within Intensive Care, they are often transferred to the High Dependency Unit (HDU). The HDU ward is for patients who need more intensive observation, treatment and nursing care than is possible in a general ward, but slightly less than that given in Intensive Care.

“But I feel very lucky and privileged. I get to know patients and families so well throughout the process. It is very sad that not all the patients recover and that does take its toll at times, but it’s so rewarding to see people recover and go on to live their lives.”

Meet our Critical Care Lead for The Emergency Village and Critical Care Development

Dr Rob Thompson, Critical Care Lead for the Emergency Village and Critical Care Development

Dr Rob Thompson is a Critical Care Consultant at Blackpool Victoria Hospital and is also the Critical Care Lead in the Emergency Village and Critical Care Development.

He qualified as a doctor in 1999.

Rob is the first doctor in his family. Originally from Shropshire he studied medicine at the University of Manchester.

Rob came to Blackpool Victoria as a junior doctor and thought it was a nice place for staff and so he stayed. This is also where he met his wife, a nurse.

Through specialist training programmes, he went on to train in anaesthetics and Intensive Care, starting his current role in 2010.

He said: “I have always  wanted an interesting and rewarding career and for me, that is medicine.

“I enjoy being hands on and in Critical Care; you can see immediate effects which is very satisfying.

“The job can be emotionally draining and it never gets easier although we do have a lot of coping techniques. However, it is amazing to see patients in follow up clinics once they are better – some have completely transformed.”

Rob is one of the Critical Care consultants who have overall responsibility for the care delivered across the Intensive Care Unit (ITU) and the High Dependency Unit  (HDU) which make up the 16 beds of  ‘critical care’.

The Emergency Village and Critical Care development will see ITU and HDU come together in a new purpose-built building alongside the current Urgent Care Centre. Currently, these wards are in separate areas of the hospital.

Rob said: “Critical care is very traumatic and the environment can aggravate families who are already distressed.

“The new location will provide more privacy and dignity by providing separate rooms which will help lessen the distress.

“There will also be more room to rehabilitate our patients to get them get back home and managing their daily routine.

“Through a focus group of former patients and their families, we asked about their experiences and suggestions. We listened to this and will now provide an enhanced relatives’ room and facilities with provision for overnight stays.

“Combining ITU and HDU will provide a much more enhanced environment for the patient to get better especially regaining the ability to look after themselves.

“The whole team are excited about the changes and are looking forward to working within a space that they all have put ideas into in order to make the patient care the best that it can be.”


July, 2019

A Critical Care Consultant has spent a shift as a nurse in order to get a better understanding of their role.

Dr Jason Cupitt, who works at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, spent the day on the Intensive Care Unit performing the duties of a staff nurse.

He said: “I watched an interes

Dr Cupitt checks observations on the ward.

ting online talk by Neil Spenceley, National Patient Safety Lead for Paediatrics, in which he spent time in a variety of roles and which gave him a new understanding of specific issues and challenges in the work place in order to better understand the whole picture.


“Sometimes the way teams interact can be toxic. I’ve found that incivility is widespread in healthcare. And poor behaviours affect patient safety. I wanted to see first-hand what pressures the nurses face and the many parts of their job that the consultants don’t see.”

Jason’s shift was supported by Staff Nurse Malissa Paterson on an exceptionally challenging day with a sick, deteriorating patient.

He said: “I didn’t realise how much paperwork was involved on a daily basis. It seemed relentless. I was very humbled by how much the nurses have the doctor’s back. And how they are the eyes, the ears, the advocate of the patient. Not only are they dealing with the patients but also their families which can often be emotionally challenging. I realised that the doctors tend to parachute in, bark out orders, and leave in a cloud of smoke. The nurse is by the bedside for a solid 12 hours.

“After my experience, I am now looking at what we can do as a consultant body to better support the whole team, build their confidence and improve output. We can target recruitment and retention and good people won’t leave.”

Unit Manager for Critical Care, Lauren Snape, said: “If only every workplace had a Dr Cupitt.

“Jason is exceptionally supportive of the nursing workforce not just in our team but in the Trust. Following some members of the team watching Neil Spenceley’s video, I challenged Dr Cupitt to become a nurse for the day. In true style it took him less than a minute to accept the challenge!

ITU Ward Manager, Lauren with Dr Cupitt

“The nursing team were exceptionally responsive and welcoming to this new experience. I think it is fair to say in the lead up to his shift it lifted spirits and was a new and exciting concept. We had no real plan of how it would work or what his level of participation would be. I must say he did exceptionally well at staying focused and reminding our medical colleagues he was there as a nurse and that’s how he wanted to be seen that day.

“Dr Cupitt has demonstrated he will go above and beyond for the nursing staff. We see how committed he is and we know he genuinely wants us to have a positive workplace culture. I want to reinforce he is doing an exceptional job of this.”


 May 2018

 Blackpool Victoria Hospital welcomes an off the hoof visitor

Dr Emma Jackson, Dr Jason Cupitt and trainer Katy Smith with Digby

Blackpool Victoria Hospital welcomed a special visitor who put the ‘whinny’ into Whinney Heys Road.

One year-old American miniature horse, Digby, is the first guide horse in the UK and is one of a small number of therapy horses across the country. He dropped in for a special visit to be ‘neigh’bourly to staff and patients.

Two foot tall Digby was accompanied by Katy Smith, owner of KL Pony Therapy in Northallerton, who has 30 years of experience working with horses.

She said: “Our ponies are trained to be social and they create lovely memories for the patients they meet, particularly if they are feeling fed up.

“The miniature horses can live up to 50 years, which makes them ideal as guide horses for the blind and partially sighted. They enjoy doing visits and love to meet people.”

Digby’s visit was arranged by doctor and horse rider, Emma Jackson. She said: “I had heard of the ponies visiting hospitals and care homes and thought it would be a great idea for the horses to visit our Critical Care Unit among others.”

Digby proved a real hit with patients as does the therapy dog, Dandy, who visits the Critical Care Unit every week.

Critical Care Consultant, Dr Jason Cupitt, paid for Digby’s visit himself because of the healing qualities that animals can bring to patients.

He said: “We know that animals have been proven to aid psychological wellbeing as we have seen with the regular therapy dog visits.

“Sometimes a visit from an animal is just what a patient needs to get well again. And who can’t relate to a lovely animal like a dog or a horse?”

Digby’s colleague, Mr P, a yearling, also visited the Unit then went on to visit the Children’s Ward for a little horseplay.