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Seahorse Paediatric Intensive Care


"I ensure wherever possible I speak to all parents on the intensive care unit on a daily basis to offer my support and answer any concerns they may have. We recognise this is one of the most stressful times of their lives and we are here to help in any way we can to support them through their stay in the intensive care unit and in hospital."

PICU Matron


Infants and children are admitted to the intensive care unit as an emergency or following planned cardiac surgery. The intensive care unit is at the heart of the children's hospital, immediately next door to the operating theatre and cardiac catheter laboratory, and at any time around half of its 18 beds will be occupied by infants and children with complex congenital heart problems.

A team of nurses, who undergo at least 12 months of specialist training in intensive care, provide constant care. There is also a team of paediatric intensive care Consultant medical staff, who cover the unit on a weekly basis providing greater continuity of care. They support a team of  junior medical staff - a mixture of paediatric, anaesthesia and intensive care trainees - who provide appropriate cover for the unit so that at least two are available at all times, in keeping with current national standards. The unit also benefits from having its own consultant pharmacist, specialist physiotherapists, a dietitian with a special interest in intensive care nutrition, and a part-time clinical psychologist, all of whom regularly attend the various PICU ward rounds.

As the only unit of its kind in the South West, and South Wales for infants and children with complex heart problems requiring surgery, PICU is a busy place - we care for around eight children who have had elective cardiac surgery in Bristol every week, as well as emergencies. It is also the base for our Transport Team, which provides a retrieval service collecting cardiac patients who need intensive care from hospitals throughout the South West and South Wales and bringing them safely back to Bristol for specialist treatment.

Cleanliness and hygiene are obviously a priority, and PICU has had no recent recorded cases of MRSA or C Difficile.

The medical and nursing teams and other health care professionals working on the intensive care unit strive to deliver the very highest standards and quality in care for our patients whilst supporting their families in a welcoming environment. 

There are no restrictions to parents visiting their children on PICU, we do however ask you to restrict the number of visitors and for safety reasons we only allow two family members in the ward at any one time to ensure we have immediate access to your child and the unit does not become overcrowded. We asked visitors not to visit the unit if they have any signs of illness such as a temperature or diarrhoea and/or vomiting in the past 48 hours. 

We ask parents to leave the unit during ward rounds to protect the privacy and confidentiality of other children on the ward. Following the ward round the nursing and medical staff will update you on your child's progress and the Consultant in-charge of your child's care. If you are worried or have any concerns you can, in the first instance, speak to the named nurse or doctor caring for your child and if you wish the Consultant for the unit that day. The ward Sister and Matron are always available to talk to. The Cardiologist and cardiac surgical team will review your child's progress at least twice a day on the morning and early evening ward rounds. The Cardiac Nurse Specialist on for the week also attend the morning ward round and will be available for you to talk to if you have any worries or concerns. Once your child is well enough they will be transferred from PICU to Ward 32 to either the High Dependency Unit, if they require ongoing high dependency care, or to the a general cardiac bed within the ward.  Children on the High Dependency unit continue to be reviewed twice daily by a Consultant from the intensive care unit and Consultant Cardiologist. Those children on the ward are also reviewed daily by a Consultant Cardiologist and their team.