Information for families about the Paediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Family Liaison Service on the Paediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (PICU/NICU)

The development of this service was initially both parent- and staff- driven after feedback showed that staff felt that they were often so busy caring for the critically ill child that they were unable to devote as much time to the family as was often required.

The Family Liaison service comprises of 2.5 full-time equivalent senior nurses across the floor providing practical and emotional support to parents, carers and other family members. The Family Liaison Nurses are Esther Rose, Katie Dettmer and Emily Cantrell. We can be contacted on or 0207 405 9200 ext. 8207.

An established psychosocial team is able to address the needs of the family as a whole unit, from admission, during their stay and through to discharge from PICU/NICU. The team includes a psychologist, social worker, chaplains, and play specialist. As well as supporting families within PICU/NICU, the Family Liaison Nurses are developing other services such as:

  • outreach within the hospital for planned PICU/NICU stays and tours for families pre admission
  • outreach and tours for parents antenatally for planned NICU admissions after birth
  • staff support
  • teaching
  • improving patient and family facilities on PICU/NICU
  • discharge planning and co-ordination for long term children
  • bereavement services
We are continually working on the development of the service through close links with the psychosocial team and other areas of the Trust to ensure that the service continues to meet needs and be a valued addition to the PICU/NICU environment.

Parent support group

The parent support group was formed in 2003. Any parent or carer of a child admitted to PICU/NICU is welcome to join the group as we feel parents are in the best position to tell us what we are doing well or how we might improve our present practice. The parents' group meets yearly.

The group meets in conjunction with the yearly PICU/NICU past patients' party. After discharge there are various ways in which parents can remain involved in influencing service developments on NICU/PICU depending on the time they can spare.

Other useful information

When your baby/child has been admitted to the intensive care unit it is a huge shock and a bewildering experience. To help you we have provided some useful information:

You are able to visit your baby/child any time day or night except during the morning ward round.
Due to confidentiality parents are not allowed on the ward when the consultant morning ward round takes place. You are welcome to stay during the afternoon and evening ward round.
We provide everything for your child but it would help if you brought in your child’s usual toiletries.
Parents who are staying may need to consider bringing toothpaste, toothbrush, a change of clothes, a book, snacks and telephone numbers.
For some children a few small toys and photographs may be comforting.
Visitors other than parents can only visit after the morning ward round and until 9pm, and they must be in the presence of a parent. Only 3 visitors are allowed at a child's bedside at any time, including the parent. No children except siblings are allowed to visit on PICU/NICU.


Free accommodation is available for up to two parents/carers during the child’s stay. You should bring your own toiletries. We advise that other children are left with relatives or friends at home. If this is not an option then we have two houses available to us as part of the Sick Children’s Trust, in which we offer free accommodation subject to availability. A returnable deposit of £10 is required for all accommodation.


Great Ormond Street Hospital actively supports breast feeding. If you need to express milk, there is a breast feeding room located near NICU/PICU and several breast pumps are available to use at your baby’s bedside. You will need to bring your own breast pump for use in hospital accommodation.

If you are breast feeding or expressing, you are entitled to £5 per day of breast feeding vouchers that can be used in the Lagoon Cafeteria. The vouchers can be picked up from the Social Work Department on Level 2 and your baby’s nurse can assist you with these arrangements.

In addition, there is also a neonatal nurse advisor available during the week who offers support for expressing and breastfeeding mothers.


Midwives hold a clinic in Outpatients on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 2.30 and 4 pm for mothers who have recently had babies (within the last 28 days).

Please take your midwifery notes with you when you attend.


The Lagoon cafeteria is on Level 2. It serves hot and cold food and drinks. Within a 10 minute walk of the hospital is a shopping centre and a supermarket.


Details of schemes, permits and information about parking around the hospital are available at the hospital front desk, by the main entrance. Parents whose child is on PICU/NICU can request a car parking permit.