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Capital & Coast DHB Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

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Wellington Regional Hospital ICU

Wellington Regional Hospital is the tertiary referral centre for the lower North and upper South Islands of New Zealand. We have a catchment population of approximately one million people within a geographic radius of 300km.

Wellington Regional Hospital's ICU supports seven public hospitals that have intensive care units and one hospital that does not. To transport patients between hospitals, we operate a 24/7 aeromedical retrieval service staffed by doctors and nurses from within our ICU.

Our unit has 24 intensive care bed spaces. We look after paediatric, neurosurgical, trauma, cardiothoracic, vascular, renal, general medical and surgical patients. We do not look after patients with serious burns or spinal injuries but are involved in their transfer to centres that do.

New Zealand has one specialist paediatric (child) intensive care unit based in Starship Hospital in  Auckland. We manage most paediatrics (100-150 per year) but refer the sickest children on to Starship.

Wellington ICU treats about 1700 patients each year; 40% of these are elective (planned) after major surgery and include 500 cardiothoracic (heart surgery) patients. We have a median occupancy each morning of 18 patients with a range from 5 to 21.  The median length of stay for patients is 28 hours, reflecting the high number of elective admissions. We ventilate 60% of admissions and have a mortality rate of approximately 10%.

To provide this level of care 24-hours-a-day, every day, requires a large team. We employ over 165 nurses, 30 doctors, 6 clerical support staff, and many allied health staff including physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, dietitians, pharmacists and social workers. We also rely heavily on our colleagues in other departments such as radiology and laboratory services.

To help us provide the best care for our patients, we have developed a world-leading research unit with several large international studies designed and led from within our team. We have an affiliation with the University of Otago Wellington which allows us to provide training for New Zealand and overseas medical students. We also provide student nursing placements for several nursing schools. We are recognised by the College of Intensive Care Medicine for the maximum amount of training time for doctors wishing to become Intensive Care specialists.

What is Intensive Care?
Intensive Care is specialist medical and nursing care given to patients with acute (sudden), potentially reversible, life-threatening illnesses. 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 allied healthcare colleagues. Specialist doctors and nurses, trained to look after very ill patients, staff the ICU. Most patients requiring intensive care treatment have a single nurse allocated to look after them individually around the clock.

More information can be found here:



Referral Expectations

Patients are rarely admitted directly to the Intensive Care Unit. Patients presenting to hospital are usually admitted via the Emergency Department or another 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. If you wish to refer a patient to the ICU from another hospital, please ring the ICU Specialist on-call through the hospital switchboard.

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 9:48AM on May 7, 2020. This information is reviewed and edited by Capital & Coast DHB Intensive Care Unit (ICU).