CRITICAL care beds at Barnsley Hospital will double by the end of this year to help meet current demand thanks to a multi-million pound investment.

The new £7.3m intensive care unit will result in a total of 32 beds being available - up from the current 16 - marking the latest step in the hospital’s transformation after a makeover of its A and E department was completed last spring.

Expanding the ICU will ‘future-proof’ the hospital’s ability to look after its most ill patients, leaders said, with more spaced-out beds, improved lighting and better privacy, factors which are known to contribute to shorter stays, quicker discharges and speedier recoveries in general.

Dr Richard Jenkins, chief executive of the Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’re investing heavily in our facilities and these critical care beds will expand our capacity to care for the most poorly patients.

“It will help relieve some of the pressures elsewhere in our hospital and allow our teams to ensure their patients receive the best possible treatment and care.’’

Due to the site of where the work - set to last until the end of the year - has to take place, there will be disruption to the car park area immediately outside the main entrance of the hospital.

There are contractor compounds on site and some temporary arrangements in place for pedestrians and car users.

Clinical director for surgery, Dr Tim Wenham, added: “This project is great news for both our patients and our staff as this high-quality, purpose-built unit will allow us to provide the best possible care for our patients.

“In addition to the massively improved space and environment there is also the huge safety advantage of greater proximity to theatres, radiology and the emergency department.”

To make room for the expansion, offices and other administration facilities behind the hospital’s main reception will have to be demolished.

These works began last month, so visitors to the hospital have been warned they might be diverted to get to where they need to be, and they might hear noise from the site as demolition continues into the new year.

Associate director of nursing, Helen Green, added: “Our new unit will have a purpose-built visitor reception and waiting room so we can properly welcome people at what is often a very distressing time.

“The new relatives’ room has been designed to be sensitive to the needs of staff and relatives who may need to have difficult conversations about the care of their loved ones.”