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Capital & Coast DHB Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

Public Service


Wellington Hospital ICU
Wellington Hospital is the tertiary referral centre for the lower North Island and upper South Island of New Zealand. We have a catchment population of approximately 1,000,000 and a geographic radius of 300km.

Wellington Hospital's ICU supports six public hospitals that have intensive care units and one hospital that does not. To manage such a large area, we run a busy Flight Service.

Our Unit has 18 bedspaces and has 16 staffed beds. We look after paediatrics, neurosurgical, trauma, cardiothoracic, vascular, renal, general medical and surgical patients. We do not look after burns patients, plastic surgery patients or spinal injuries in our hospital.

New Zealand has one paediatric (child) intensive care unit in Auckland (700km north) called Starship Hospital. We manage most paediatrics (80-100 per year) but refer the very young and very difficult on to Starship.

Wellington ICU treats about 1300 patients each year; 40% of these are elective and include 500 cardiothoracic patients. This gives us an average occupancy each morning of 12 patients with a range from 6 to 16.  The median length of stay for patients is 28 hours, which reflects the high number of elective admissions. After this, 25% stay for the second day, 21% for 2 to 7 days and 6% more than a week.  We ventilate 75% of admissions and have a mortality rate of approximately 10%.

This is a busy unit with a wide range of patients and severity of illnesses.

What is Intensive Care?
Intensive Care is the specialist care given to patients with acute (sudden), potentially reversible, life-threatening diseases. This may include patients who have life-threatening conditions such as a major accident, a severe infection or those recovering from a major operation. 

Intensive Care is staffed by a team of highly experienced and professional doctors and nurses who are supported by other allied healthcare professionals. Specialist doctors, trained to look after very ill patients, staff the ICU. Most patients requiring intensive care treatment have a nurse allocated to look after them individually.  The ICU also has physiotherapists, dietitians, pharmacists and many other healthcare professionals to help care for these very ill people.

What to expect
Much of the value of the Intensive Care Unit comes from the careful monitoring of the progress of a disease and the body’s response to complex treatments. This allows timely adjustment of such treatments. In order to achieve this, many investigations and monitoring processes will occur. It may be necessary at times to perform complex procedures in the ICU, which may be time-consuming and require the Unit to be closed to visitors. 

Besides blood tests (see below), monitoring of other body functions is also commonplace. Heart rate, arterial blood pressure, central venous pressure, oxygen saturation and urine output monitoring are routine. Specific conditions may require other investigations. The changes are monitored and therapy adjusted as a result of the monitoring.


Referral Expectations

Patients are rarely admitted directly to the Intensive Care Unit. Patients presenting to hospital are usually admitted via the Emergency Department or other area where they are first stabilised.  Patients whose condition gets worse on the ward, in the operating theatre or presenting from another hospital may be transferred to ICU.

Procedures / Treatments

  • Blood Tests

    In the ICU blood tests are usually done at least once a day.… More

  • Cardiovascular Problems

    Patients with critical illness commonly develop problems with their hearts and circulation.… More

  • Respiratory Problems

    Respiratory failure occurs when the respiratory system is no longer able to provide enough oxygen requirements or remove enough carbon dioxide from the body.… More

  • Nasogastric Tube

    A nasogastric tube is often inserted at the same time as the endotracheal tube.… More

  • Kidney Problems

    Kidney (or renal) failure is when a patient’s kidneys are unable to remove wastes and excess fluid from the blood.… More

Visiting Hours

Visiting may occur 24 hours per day.  However we ask that, to preserve the privacy of all ICU patients during ward rounds and nursing handover, visiting will be restricted at the following times:

7:00 - 8:00am

4:00 - 5:00pm

7:00 - 8:00pm

9:00 - 10:00pm

Visitors may be asked to leave the Unit during treatments and examinations.


There is a coffee shop located one level below the Intensive Care Unit.

Public Transport

Riddiford Street is serviced regularly by local buses and the nearest bus stop is located at the front of the main entrance to the hospital. 

Taxis are also readily available near the front entrance of the hospital.


Parking is available in the hospital grounds and charges do apply. 

Whilst most parking spaces are uncovered, there is limited underground parking available two levels below the Intensive Care Unit.


There are pharmacies located in Newtown, within short walking distance of the hospital.


Contact Details

Marion Elliott - Department Secretary

website: www.wellingtonicu.com

Riddiford Street

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Street Address

Riddiford Street

Postal Address

Intensive Care Unit
Level 3
Wellington Regional Hospital
Riddiford Street
Private Bag 7902

This page was last updated at 12:23PM on August 1, 2016. This information is reviewed and edited by Capital & Coast DHB Intensive Care Unit (ICU).