Work is well underway on a new £7.5million critical care unit at Queen's Hospital, which bosses hope will help it to cope with winter pressures.

The ward will include 15 beds, with the option to expand to 25 in an emergency situation.

This paper was given a tour of the facility and can share photos of it under construction.

Matthew Trainer, chief executive of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), which runs the Romford hospital, said the unit would be a huge asset.

"Whether it's Covid or whether it's other respiratory illnesses or whether it's people who have more advanced cancer than they might have had, we now will have that extra flexibility with a state-of-the-art critical care facility in Romford to cope with that."

The space it is filling on the fourth floor was previously just a shell and used for storage.

Its conversion for critical care will also help with tackling surgical waiting times, Mr Trainer added.

"It means for some of those patients who have been waiting quite a long time for some very complex surgery, we've got more beds now and more ability to bring those people forward and get their operations done.

"So all around it's a fantastic investment."

King George Hospital in Goodmayes is also having work done to reconfigure and modernise its existing critical care unit.

Four beds will be added using space which was previously a corridor of management offices, bringing it up to a total of 12 beds.

At Queen's, BHRUT is also investing in an extra 30 "short-stay" beds to take patients from the emergency department and create more capacity there.

Mr Trainer said: "This is going to be a hard winter but I've got confidence we've got plans in place that will help us try to manage it and deal with it as best we can.

"Some people will wait longer than they should when they come to A&E and that is a fact and that will be a challenge for us right through the winter.

"But we will make sure those people that are sickest get the care they need."

Sodexo and Catalyst are involved in the critical care unit build at Queen's, set to be completed in January.