The Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) is also known as Seahorse Ward, has 17 beds and is for children and young people who need special care for serious medical or surgical conditions.
We have a small number of cubicles, but most beds are on in the open ward.
Who you will meet
PICU is led by a team consultants (doctors), specialised in intensive care and anaesthetics.
Other staff who work on the ward include doctors, nurses, students, health care assistants, ventilator technicians, physiotherapists, dieticians, pharmacists, housekeepers, family liaison nurses, play specialists, psychologists, social workers, chaplains, interpreters and volunteers.
The following members of staff will be available to help you during your stay on the ward:
- Assistant Chief Nurse: Jilly Hale
- Matron: Alison Taberner-Stokes
- Family Liaison Nurses: Esther Rose, Petra Shroff and Katie Dettmer
- Housekeeper: Gladys Adjei and Sylwia Linczuk
- Play Specialist: Lizzie Penn
Conditions we treat
You can learn more about our clinical services by visiting:
There are two consultants on duty on PICU 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 and 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 5pm.
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 PICU 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, as 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.
Who can stay in accommodation?
When your child is in intensive care, there is space for parents to sit by the bed and we are able to offer accommodation near the hospital 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?
You can see your child whenever you want to although parents and other visitors have to leave the unit during the morning ward round and when emergency procedures are being carried out. Your child’s nurse will arrange a time for you to speak to the doctor after the ward round so that you can discuss your child’s progress.
Before 10am and after 9pm, parents should be the only visitors.
How many people can visit?
Please limit the number of visitors to a maximum of three at any one time (including the parents). Other visitors will be asked to wait outside the ward until a space becomes free. 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.
Brothers and sisters are welcome to visit but must always be supervised by a responsible adult. No other children should visit.
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.
If you have any questions about visiting, please telephone the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (Pals) Office before you visit on 020 7829 7862.
What can I bring?
Please bring in your child’s toiletries.
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 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, so flowers and plants are not allowed.
- Everything you bring in for your child should be washable to reduce the risk of infection. This includes soft toys.
- Hot drinks or food of any kind are not allowed on PICU.
- 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.
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.
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, so please ask us.
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?
For incoming calls, you may use the direct telephone lines to the unit. If friends or relatives call, we will take a message but we ask that these calls be kept to a minimum. Nurses cannot give information about a patient to anyone except his or her parents.
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. There are areas on level 4 where you are permitted to use mobile phones and these are clearly marked. Please keep mobile phones on silent and take any calls outside the unit.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There is a Family Lounge with toys and a TV next to NICU, please do not take any hot drinks into the room. Children need to be supervised by an adult at all times. There is a Parent Lounge for adults further along the corridor with facilities to make hot drinks. There are lockers for parents’ belongings next to the Parent Lounge, please ask the ward administrators or bedside nurse for a key.
There are two unisex toilets for parents and visitors along the corridor between NICU and PICU.
PICU has a play specialist who can organise activities and can help patients get ready for any procedures they may have in hospital. They can offer support and advice to parents on coping strategies for siblings of all ages.
Brothers and sisters can also use the Activity Centre on the ground floor of the Southwood Building, which has an outdoor area and a dedicated room (the Den) for teenagers.