Hedgehog Ward

Hedgehog ward is a daycare ward, which has 10 single patient rooms with en suites and cares for children between 0–16 years.

The ward is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


Hedgehog Ward is on Level 3 of the Southwood Building in Great Ormond Street Hospital.


Hedgehog Ward nurse’ station: +44 (0)20 7762 6333/6334.

Ward Manager, Deborah Cairns: on +44(0)20 7762 6018.

For urgent admissions outside of office hours please call the switchboard on +44 (0)20 7405 9200 and ask for the doctor on call for Hedgehog Ward

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

Who you will meet

Hedgehog Ward is primarily run by our highly qualified nursing team but also includes consultants, clinical nurse specialists, physiotherapists, healthcare assistants, play specialists, psychologists, dieticians and housekeeping staff.

Your child’s consultant, supported by a team of specialist doctors, has overall responsibility for their treatment and care. They will review your child regularly and answer your questions.

The Harris International Private Patients Centre also has its own consultant-led, ward-based team of doctors who see patients every day. They act as a link between the child’s consultant, nurses and you. They will also be able to answer many of your questions.

  • Matron: Thomas Kennedy
  • Ward Manager: Deborah Cairns

Conditions we treat

Hedgehog Ward treats patients from all over the world with the most complicated, and often life-threatening, medical conditions.

Our patients range in age from newborn to 16 years old, although most are under eight.


Children from a number of specialities are seen here, including neurosurgery, craniofacial, cardiac surgery step down, ear, nose and throat (ENT), and specialist neonatal and paediatric surgery.

Ward Information

Staying with your child

Only one parent is able to stay overnight at the bedside due to space availability. If you need other accommodation, we can provide you with information about nearby hotels. Arabic interpreters can help you arrange additional accommodation.

We expect and encourage a parent to be resident with their child during the full duration of their stay. This is to encourage you to be involved in your childs care. However if this is not possible, with parental permission another family member may stay.

All inpatient rooms have en suite bathrooms with a shower and have a parent's bed close to the child's bed to enable a parent to stay overnight. There are also two larger bathrooms on the ward which have disabled access and hoists. Linen is provided for both beds but we do ask parents to make their beds. Storage space and a safe are available in each room. 

The storage space is limited so we would ask you to try and keep items brought into the hospital to a minimum. 

We can provide towels but we ask you to provide toiletries for your child and yourself.

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

Hedgehog Ward is a locked ward. To come in you will need to press the buzzer 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?

One parent or carer is welcome to stay with their child during an admission. The other parent or carer can visit at any time but will not be able to stay overnight on the ward. Grandparents and other friends and relatives are also welcome to visit. Apart from one parent/carer, all other visitors must leave by 10pm.

Brothers and sisters and young family members are welcome on the ward but they must be supervised at all times by an adult, particularly when in the playroom. If a patient is infectious then their siblings are not allowed to use the playroom or ward communal areas. We can provide toys or activities in the patients room. Please remember that you are responsible for their behaviour at all times in the hospital as our staff cannot supervise siblings.

Some wards restrict the numbers of other children (not brothers or sisters) visiting, so please check before you come to GOSH. Children and young people can also keep in touch with friends through the activities centre and hospital school. Sometimes we can help by providing a videoconference.

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.

When can I visit?

On most wards, visiting hours for friends and relatives other than the child’s parents are between 10am and 8pm. Some wards close during ‘ward rounds’, where each child’s progress and future plans are discussed. The nurse in charge will be able to give you a rough idea of when these happen and for how long they last. Wards also have ‘quiet periods’ when visiting is restricted, which enables our patients to have an afternoon rest without interruption.

How many people can visit?

Space is quite limited on most of our wards, so we ask that a maximum of three people (including the parent) visit a child at one time. If more than three people want to visit, please take it in turns to visit the ward. Other visitors can get a drink or something to eat in one of our eating-places while they wait.

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

We have Arabic Customer Service Assistants that will greet you at reception on Level 2 of the Octav Botnar Wing, who will take you to your ward and explain your surroundings.

Visitors should ask the child’s parents/carer 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.

Occasionally, we have to move children from one ward to another. This can happen at weekends, when the number of patients is reduced so two or more wards might combine to provide a safe and effective service. Other occasions when we might move a child are when he or she has an infection or is at risk of catching an infection. In these circumstances, we might move them to a single cubicle or, on rare occasions when more than one patient has an infection, close the ward to all visitors.

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.

Protected Meal Times – GOSH Principle

Infants, children and young people will not be unnecessarily interrupted with either non-essential clinical or non-clinical activities during the advertised ward mealtimes. The protected time will be an hour at both lunch and dinner time. Also, they will not be unnecessarily interrupted when they are eating their meals or bottle/breastfeeding outside of these times where possible. Please see the posters on the ward for these times or ask a member of staff.

If your child wants a meal outside of these times, we have a selection of snacks or we can arrange for snacks to come from the hospital kitchen. Please speak with our housekeeper for this service.

A selection of cereals and toast-making facilities are available from the Parents’ Kitchen for the parents.

If you find that breakfast stock, plates, bowls or cutlery are running low, please inform a member of staff as soon as possible.

Cooked breakfasts are not available on the ward but can be purchased from The Lagoon restaurant located on Level 2 of the Morgan Stanley Clinical Building.


For parents

We encourage parents to take part in their children's care as much as possible while in hospital.

All rooms are en suite and have a parent’s bed close to the child’s bed to allow one parent to stay overnight. Linen is provided for both but we do ask parents to make their own beds. Only one parent is allowed to stay overnight at the bedside due to health and safety risks.

If additional accommodation is required this can be arranged through the patient advocates.

Inpatient rooms

All inpatient rooms have en suite bathrooms with a shower. There are also several larger bathrooms on the ward, at least one of which has disabled access and hoists.

We can provide towels and there is a hairdryer in each room. We ask you to provide toiletries for your child and yourself.

There is plenty of room for storage and a coded safe for storing your valuables in all rooms.


Hedgehog Ward has a play specialist who organises activities in the playroom and at the bedside.

The play specialist offers age-appropriate play that can help to prepare your child for the procedures they have in hospital.

Parents' lounge and laundry

There is a parents' lounge and beverage lounge on the ward, featuring a television with channels in different languages and reading material including daily English and Arabic newspapers.

There are free laundry facilities including a washing machine and tumble dryer. We ask you not to wash or dry clothes in your child’s room.

Food for parents

There is a parents' kitchen where food can be reheated only, not cooked from fresh. Raw food must not be cooked in the kitchen.

Food in the refrigerator must be dated and labelled with the stickers provided. This helps us keep track of out-of-date items and make sure they are thrown away.

There are shops and cafes in the hospital for parents, children and visitors to buy refreshments, including snacks and hot meals. There is also a 'light bites' menu on the ward for patients, parents and guests to order from.

Free tea and coffee, biscuits, bread and cereal are all available.  


If you need them, the ward’s Arabic Interpreters can help you communicate with the staff who are looking after you. We can also find translators in other languages to help you during your stay. They can also offer general help and support settling into life at the Harris International Patient Centre and London generally.

The Trust also uses Language Line for families needing an interpreter. It is available 24 hours a day.

If you need to use Language Line please ask one of the nursing team for the contact details when you arrive.