Paediatric intensive care unit (PICU)

What we do 

We specialise in the care of children from birth to 16 years, with a variety of heart or lung illnesses. We look after children who require intensive care following emergency and planned heart and lung surgery. 

When you reach the unit

Please ring the bell and wait to be admitted. Please be patient, we will answer as quickly as possible. If you have not visited before the nurse or ward administrator will come and meet you to take you to your child.

Infection prevention is very important on our ward, so once admitted, please use the alcohol gel provided just on the left inside the door or wash your hands at the sink a  few steps further down the corridor on the right.

Visiting times

Following a period of visiting restrictions at our hospitals, we are now carefully welcoming back visitors. See our visiting guidance in full here

Visiting times at Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals operate seven days a week. Please check with the ward prior to your visit, as visiting times vary between wards.

Please note that visiting guidance for some wards in our hospitals may vary, so please check with the nursing team on the ward before visiting.

The children we care for

We are equipped to care for children with problems with their heart and lungs from their first day of life until they are 16 years old.

You can be assured of the highest standard of care, managed by internationally recognised experts in their field equipped with the most modern means of achieving as speedy a recovery as possible.

We care for many newborn babies with suspected heart disease, who are referred to us from maternity units in other hospitals. We also look after children with breathing conditions, including bronchiolitis, tracheomalacia, Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy and other neuromuscular disorders.

Life on the unit

We have four bays with four beds each and four single cubicles. Although bays are mixed, there are curtains around each bed for privacy during procedures.

There is a small sitting room on the unit and a kitchen where parents can make drinks and heat simple foods. We can provide accommodation for families, but it is limited – some twin rooms on level 6, single and double accommodation in South Parade and we also have access to three family flats. Unfortunately, brothers and sisters are not able to stay in the facilities on level 6 due to health and safety regulations. Breastfeeding support and facilities are also provided for new mothers.

Read more about accommodation.

Care for your child

Your child will have their own nurse following surgery, particularly if they require mechanical assistance with their breathing. Once they no longer require this support and are recovering their nurse may need to look after two patients. The medical staff and nurse coordinating the shift assess each patient to make this decision.

Please ask your nurse at the bedside for any information you need, and let him or her know about any concerns you may have.

Medical rounds are held regularly throughout the day, the main one is held at 9am, mainly away from the bedside,  

On occasion you may be asked to leave the bay or room, this may only be to preserve another patients’ confidentiality and should not be cause for concern. Please do leave the clinical areas if requested to as a child may require an urgent procedure which may require additional space or for the staff to act particularly quickly.  A member of staff should be able to keep you informed, but please be patient if you can see they are busy.

Who you will meet on the unit

The nursing staff all wear blue scrubs, like pyjamas, but will wear identification badges. There will be a nurse in charge of the unit on each shift and he or she will be responsible for co-ordinating the care of the children on PICU on a day to day basis.

The PICU medical staff wear normal clothes (no white coats) and consist of a consultant, clinical fellows and senior house officers (SHOs). Other medical staff you may meet include surgeons, anaesthetists, cardiologists and respiratory specialists.

You will also meet other members of the multidisciplinary team including physiotherapists, dieticians, occupational therapists, X-ray staff and pharmacists.

During the day there is a ward administrator who will be able to answer any general queries that you may have.

Further information

Paediatric critical care - information for parents and carers - Royal Brompton Hospital - September 2014 (pdf, 505.6KB)

Read about Rose ward.

Read about the paediatrics department.