Flamingo Ward

Flamingo Ward is home to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) and provides care for children under the age of 16 who need intensive care for conditions involving the heart, lungs or airways.

It is where children are nursed before and after heart surgery, including heart/lung transplants, and the unit houses the ECMO (Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation) programme for children with serious heart and lung damage. Newborn babies with suspected heart disease or defects also stay on Flamingo Ward.


Flamingo Ward telephone number: 020 7829 8828.

For urgent enquiries outside of office hours please call the switchboard on 020 7405 9200 and ask for the on-call CICU co-ordinator on extension 8828/8652.

If your child has any additional needs, please call in advance to let us know.

Who you will meet

Flamingo Ward is staffed 24 hours a day by a multidisciplinary team including intensive care doctors and nurses, family liaison nurses, cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, ventilator technicians, physiotherapists, dieticians, pharmacists, chaplains, volunteers and housekeepers.

The person who co-ordinates your child’s care while on Flamingo Ward is the intensive care consultant on duty that day.

The following members of staff will be available to help you during your stay on the ward:

  • Matron: Barbara Childs
  • Family Liaison Sisters: Juliet Le Breuilly and Colette Brackley
  • Play Specialist: Janet Holmes
  • Play Worker: Kimberley Bonner

Conditions we treat

The special areas of expertise include; intensive care pre and post heart surgery, heart transplant, lung transplant, ECMO, diagnosis and treatment for newborns with suspected heart problems, Berlin Heart – bridge to transplant, tracheal surgery and pulmonary hypertension.

For more information on some of these conditions, please see the list below.

For more information about some of these conditions, see the list below:

Ward Information

Flamingo Ward has:

  • three four-bedded bays including an ECMO bay
  • two double cubicles
  • five single cubicles

Three of the single cubicles are isolation rooms – for children who either have an infection or need to be protected from infection.

Having a child on CICU is a frightening and disorientating experience as everything is unfamiliar. Please remember that everybody on the unit is here to help you and your child, and you should feel free to ask any questions or query anything you don’t understand or are uncomfortable with.

When your child is first admitted to CICU, it will take around 45 minutes to attach monitors, drips and tubes to feed them and give medication. They will then be ready for you to visit.

For security reasons, the doors to CICU are kept locked. Please ring the bell and a member of staff will let you in as quickly as possible.

There are two consultants on duty on CICU each day – one is based on the unit and is responsible for the clinical care of your child and the other is known as the ‘supporting consultant’, who is on the unit from 9am until 4pm, their role is to update all families that day regarding their child’s medical condition. This will happen after the morning ward round and before the evening ward round. Evening ward rounds start at 4pm.

Privacy and dignity

We do everything we can to protect the privacy and dignity of your child at all times during their stay at GOSH. Your child will be allocated a bed space according to how their physical, psychological and social needs are best met while taking into consideration the needs of other children and young people on the ward at that time.

Please tell us if your child has a preference for being with other children of their own age or gender and we will try to meet this request where possible. Please note that there are some circumstances where requests cannot be met, for instance, in high dependency or intensive care areas. Your child’s safety will be our utmost priority at all times.

As part of our progress towards protecting your child’s dignity, we have introduced a new type of theatre gown. This provides unrestricted access for our nurses and doctors while keeping your child covered up and comfortable at all times.

Security and fire

For security reasons, the doors to Flamingo Ward are kept locked. Please ring the bell and when asked, state who you are and the name of the child you have come to visit.

All members of staff must wear an identity badge at all times. If someone not wearing an identity badge approaches you or your child at any time, please check with a member of staff. If you are at all worried, please call security on extension 5999.

Our security guards are on duty in the hospital 24 hours a day, seven days week. They are here to protect all our staff, patients and visitors and do regular patrols of all the buildings. Remember if you see anything out of the ordinary, ask a member of staff to contact security. Try not to bring valuable items to the hospital, as we cannot accept responsibility for the loss of or damage to any personal belongings.

All parts of the hospital site are protected by a very sensitive fire alarm system. If you are on the ward when the fire alarm sounds continuously, please remain calm and follow the instructions from the nurse in charge. If you are elsewhere in the hospital, please remain where you are and follow the instructions from a member of staff. Do not return to the ward until the area is declared safe by the hospital fire team.

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on GOSH property, which includes inside any of the buildings or areas nearby including entrances. Please do not smoke in our main entrance or near hospital buildings – we will ask you to move elsewhere.

Visiting a patient at GOSH

We know that having visitors can make things seem more ‘normal’ for our patients. However, we have to have a balance between people visiting and our staff being able to care for our patients.

Please note that some wards, particularly intensive care units and wards where children have immune problems, have stricter guidelines than others so if you are unsure, please speak to the nurse in charge.

Who can visit?

When your child is in intensive care, there is space for a parent to rest by the bed and we are able to offer accommodation for both parents or for single parent families, one parent and a close relative (such as a grandparent) overnight. This service is free and all bed linen is provided but we will ask you for a returnable deposit.

If you have other children who need to stay with you, please call the department for advice, as there is a Sick Children’s Trust house nearby.

When can I visit?

Parents are allowed to visit anytime they want, although we do suggest you take regular breaks. Other visitors such as grandparents and other family members must visit between 3.30pm and 7.30pm on weekdays and between 12pm and 7.30pm on at weekends or Bank Holidays.

How many people can visit?

Only two people (including the parents) are allowed at the bedside at any one time. Other visitors will be asked to wait outside the ward in the parent’s area until a space becomes free. Brothers and sisters are welcome to visit but must always be supervised by a responsible adult. You are welcome to telephone the units at any time.

Anyone who has an infection should not visit until they are better. If in doubt, please speak to your bedside nurse or the nurse in charge.

Please note that one parent has to be present while other people are visiting or they have to give written permission for visitors while they are not there. If there is any confusion about who can visit a child, we will always give priority to people with ‘parental responsibility’ for the patient.

Our patients’ safety is our utmost concern and if a parent is not present and they have not given permission for visitors, we can and will refuse entry to the ward.

What can I bring?

You are welcome to bring presents for our patients but please be aware of some restrictions.

  • Latex (stretchy rubber) balloons are not allowed, as some of our patients have a life-threatening latex allergy. Foil balloons do not cause these problems so you are welcome to bring these.
  • Flowers – water in the vase can develop a bacterium that can cause infection in children.
  • Some materials on certain wards (ie fluffy/fleece blankets). Please check with the nurse.
  • Please check with the nurse before you bring in food, such as chocolates and sweets, as some of our patients are on restricted diets.
  • When you are visiting, please keep the area around the child’s bed tidy so that our nurses can reach the bed easily and quickly.

Please note that the hospital cannot accept responsibility for any loss of or damage to personal property.

Finding the ward

Please ask the child’s parents for the name of the ward. Our reception staff can tell you where the child is staying but will ask you for proof of identity. Volunteers near the main reception desk can escort you to the ward or give you directions.

Infection control

Please do not visit if you have a cold, cough or an upset stomach, or think you have recently been in contact with someone who has. You should wait until you have not had any symptoms for 48 hours before you visit. Other infectious diseases including chicken pox and measles could be particularly dangerous for some of our patients so please do not visit if you have been in contact with them recently.

If you are a parent or carer staying with your child and you become unwell during their stay we will ask you to leave the ward to go home to get better.

When you visit, please wash your hands thoroughly before you enter the ward and use the alcohol gel provided at each ward door. When you leave the patient, please wash your hands again and use alcohol gel. Every member of staff is reminded to wash their hands before visiting a child.

Will you give me information about the patient’s progress?

We will only give this information to the child’s parents, unless they give us permission to tell anyone else. If family and friends want to receive regular updates on a child’s progress, we suggest parents tell one person who is then responsible for telling everyone else. This is often easier to manage than making lots of phone calls every time a child’s condition changes.

Can I telephone the patient or their parents?

Most beds in the hospital have a telephone by the bedside, so you can call directly. Please ask the child’s parents for the number, as our switchboard cannot put calls through to patients. We also ask that you do not call after 10pm as this could disturb our patients’ sleep.

Important information

GOSH is a smoke-free zone, which means that you cannot smoke anywhere inside hospital property and adjacent areas, such as entrances to hospital buildings.

You can use your mobile phone inside the hospital, but only within designated ‘mobile phone friendly zones’. Using your mobile elsewhere could cause interference with our medical equipment.

We will not tolerate any kind of inappropriate or threatening behaviour – verbal, physical or psychological – and we have a policy to ensure that this is dealt with appropriately. We can and will remove people from GOSH in these circumstances.

If you have any questions about visiting, please telephone the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (Pals) Office before you visit on 020 7829 7862.


You are a valued member of your child‘s healthcare team and we encourage you to take part in his or her care as much as possible while in hospital. The Family Liaison nurses will meet and orientate all families of children admitted to CICU and provide comprehensive advice and support. We work closely with the psychosocial team of psychologist, social workers, chaplains, play specialist, community midwives and any others involved with children and families. We provide a point of contact for families either before a planned admission or during an inpatient stay.

The ward has a parents' sitting room and facilities to make drinks and snacks.

For mothers who wish to breastfeed, we provide a dedicated room. We also provide the equipment to 'express' breast milk so your child can be fed through a nasogastric tube, if necessary.

You can use your mobile phone inside the hospital but only within designated ‘mobile friendly zones’. Using your mobile elsewhere could cause interference with our medical equipment.

More information

For more information about facilities available for parents, family members, visitors and patients in the hospital, including the Chapel and multi-faith room, hospital school, activity centre and information on where you can eat or find facilities such as launderettes, please visit our Facilities A-Z page.