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Oxford Children's Hospital

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Paediatric Critical Care (PICU and PHDU)

The Paediatric Critical Care Unit looks after Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) patients and Paediatric High Dependency Unit (PHDU) patients from Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire.

The Paediatric Critical Care Unit admits children from birth to age sixteen years with a wide range of conditions, who need a high level of observation (PHDU) or intensive care therapies (PICU).

Visiting information

Please see Visitor FAQs


Children's Critical Care - information for patients and their families and carers (pdf)

Children's Critical Care leaflet


We try to find accommodation for parents, although families sometimes have to share accommodation when demand is high, and occasionally there is a waiting list.

Parent accommodation

Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)

In the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) we look after children with a variety of needs including long-term respiratory, cardiology, surgery, trauma and neurological problems, as well as acute paediatric admissions. We offer a range of intensive care therapies.

A child cared for on PICU will be looked after by a nurse or assistant practitioner who has no other patients to care for, who will be present at their bedside continuously.

PICU is staffed by a multidisciplinary team (MDT) which includes:

  • Paediatricians
  • Anaesthetists
  • Intensive Care Nurses
  • Physiotherapists
  • Pharmacists
  • Dietitians

Admissions to PICU can be a stressful time for families, and we are keen to support the family as a whole: colleagues in Social Services and Clinical Psychology provide us with valuable support.

Paediatric High Dependency Unit (PHDU)

The Paediatric High Dependency Unit (PHDU) cares for children who are not unwell enough to be admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, but require close monitoring and treatments which cannot be provided safely in a general children’s ward.

This can include children who have had high-risk surgery, or who need additional support. Children may be non-invasively ventilated in PHDU, or ventilated through a tracheostomy.

We admit children from hospitals within our Trust, or from hospitals within the Thames Valley Network where fewer higher dependency beds are available.

When we care for a child on PHDU there is usually one nurse or assistant practitioner caring for two patients. This means the nurse will not be at the child’s bedside continuously, but due to the design of the unit the nurses can see all patients at all times, and a central monitor displaying each child’s observations is always visible on the nurses’ station.

PHDU also has Play Specialist to support children during their stay.

Critical Care Outreach Service

When a child is well enough to leave critical care, we will transfer them to one of the wards in the Children's Hospital, or to a children's ward at their local hospital.

Families may feel stressed or anxious when a child leaves critical care; it can take time to get used to not having 1:1 or 1:2 nursing and the constant monitoring that the child has previously received.

It can also take time to adjust to different visiting arrangements on the ward.

A Children's Critical Care Outreach nurse reviews each child within 24 hours of discharge and at intervals as required. They provide support during the transition period between Critical Care and the wards and also support the nursing and medical staff caring for children after their stay in PICU.

Southampton Oxford Retrieval Team (SORT)

Southampton Oxford Retrieval Team (SORT) is a joint service between Southampton and Oxford Paediatric Intensive Care Units, providing a safe environment to transport critically ill children. The service provides expert advice, decision-making support and patient transport to hospitals in the south of England.

Southampton Oxford Retrieval Team (SORT).

PICU consultants

  • Dr Sara-Louise Hulme
  • Dr Janet McCluskey
  • Dr Deirdre O'Shea
  • Dr Avishay Sarfatti
  • Dr Alison Shefler
  • Dr Helen Turnham
  • Dr James Weitz
  • Dr Tim Whittington


  • Zoe Pooley
    Children's Directorate Matron
  • Abigail Smith
    Deputy Matron (Paediatric Critical Care Unit)

Contact us

Level 1, main JR building.

Intensive Care Unit on the right: High Dependency Unit on the left.


Children's Inpatient Management of Pain Service (ChIMPS)

Last reviewed:07 February 2023