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There is an opening visiting policy for close family members to be arranged in advance with the Nurse in Charge.


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Cardiothoracic Services (Heart and Lung)

PICU Freeman Hospital

The PICU (Paediatric Intensive Care Unit) at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle is an intensive care unit for children who are seriously ill, or recovering from heart surgery.

We care for children from new-borns to adolescents who have a range of heart, lung and airway conditions. Our services include treatment for:

  • patients with congenital (from birth) heart disease
  • heart surgery
  • heart/lung transplantation
  • care that bridges the gap to heart transplantation, sometimes called Berlin Hearts (VAD)
  • advanced heart and lung life support, called ECMO
  • patients who need surgery for airway and lung problems. 


Children Heart Unit PICUThe PICU has recently expanded to 12 beds. It is an open-plan unit and there are times when privacy may be limited. However, we can provide screens so please ask your nurse should you need them. There is a quiet room provided on the unit where you can talk to your child’s consultant or nurse.

A waiting room is available to parents and relatives on PICU. Tea and coffee making facilities are available in the parents room on Ward 23.

Parents of children on PICU are welcome to stay near their child. There is accommodation in flats to the rear of Freeman Hospital. If you need more details about this, please ask the nurse in charge of the ward.

There are private facilities for breastfeeding, expressing etc available on Ward 23, a short distance from PICU.

How to find us

Directions to the wardShow [+] Hide [-]

We are based in the Cardiothoracic Centre which is set to the right of the Freeman Hospital as you look at the front. To find us:

  • Come into the Cardiothoracic Centre and take a right turn, follow the signs for the Children’s Heart Unit and PICU (the picture of the fish) 

How to get to the hospital

Staff you are likely to meet

The team on PICU includes:

  • Doctors
  • PICU Nurses
  • Specialist Nurses
  • Physiotherapists
  • Radiographers
  • Social workers
  • Dieticians
  • Psychologists
  • Play specialists
  • Other non-clinical staff.

Things you need to know

  • We encourage children and parents/guardians to visit the PICU before planned admissions after cardiac surgery. Please arrange this with staff on Ward 23.
  • Our philosophy of care is based on family-centred care. This means that we encourage you to take part in your child’s care wherever possible. Because of various monitoring equipment and attachments, it is often difficult for your child to wear his or her own clothes, but whenever possible we will try to use them. A favourite toy or blanket is always welcome.
  • Within the first 24 hours following surgery, visiting is restricted to parents only. After this time, grandparents and other close relatives may visit, but due to the complexity of the unit, we ask that only two visitors at a time should be at the bedside.
  • There are times when we close the PICU for short periods to visiting when surgical procedures are being carried out. This is to reduce the risk of infection.

Ward rounds

Each morning a medical meeting takes place that is attended by consultants in PICU, cardiology and cardiac surgery as well as the PICU bedside nurse and nurse-in-charge. During the meeting, the condition and progress of all patients on PICU is discussed. The PICU consultant undertakes two ward rounds each day and will be able to answer any questions you have during this time. 

Nursing staff work in 12 hour shifts, day and night, so there is always a nurse-in-charge on the unit. Each nurse looks after one or two children on their shift. During the start and close of each shift, a bedside nursing handover will take place detailing each child’s history and current condition. In the interests of patient confidentiality, parents and other visitors are asked to leave the unit during these handover periods.

If you have any questions or problems, please talk to your nurse. If she/he can't help, please ask the nurse-in-charge, or our matron.

More information

For more details about the PICU, please contact:

  • Tel: swichboard on 0191 233 6161, and ask for the Sister or nurse-in-charge of the PICU Freeman
  • Write to: Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, Level 3, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle, NE7 7DN
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