A HAMPSHIRE hospital will today unveil a £22m state-of-the-art intensive care unit that will treat the south’s most critically ill patients.

Doctors and nurses have played a key role in the design of the new facility, which will provide University Hospital Southampton (UHS) with an extra 22 intensive care beds.

The flagship building adjoins the hospital's existing intensive care unit, which will be refurbished next year, adding further capacity.

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Around 2,500 patients are treated in intensive care at UHS every year. All have severe, life-threatening conditions ranging from serious infections to injuries caused by major accidents.

Since the start of the pandemic the existing unit has also cared for more than 100 Covid-19 patients.

However, the facility is regarded as outdated and in need of modernisation.

The new facility includes a specialist rehabilitation area, enabling patients to undergo physiotherapy without having to be taken to another part of the hospital.

Southampton Hospitals Charity has launched a £1m campaign to fund items that will enhance the unit, including a relatives room for families.

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The facility has been built by BAM, with much of the work being done during the worst part of the coronavirus pandemic.

Matt Crookes, project manager at BAM, said problems included a crumbling supply chain and a workforce that largely disappeared overnight at the beginning of the national lockdown.

The scheme was later classified as “essential NHS work”.

Mr Crookes said: “At the height of the pandemic, when 1,000 people a day were dying in Britain, I had to use all my interpersonal skills to motivate people, reassure them and keep momentum going.

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“I’m exceptionally proud of what we have achieved, delivering the project on time despite facing unprecedented challenges.”

Joe Teape, chief operating officer at UHS, also cited the "unparalleled" difficulties caused by the Covid crisis.

He added: "To be able to deliver this state-of-the-art unit on time and on budget whilst managing our response to the pandemic, is truly remarkable. More importantly it enables us to continue delivering the very best outcomes for our patients.”

The new unit is due to receive its first patients at the start of next week.