NHS England publishes updated guidance to country’s paediatric intensive care units

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NHS England has today published updated guidance for managing seasonal pressures in paediatric intensive care.

The Paediatric Intensive Care Surge Standard Operating Procedure sets out instructions for managing unplanned peaks in demand for critical care beds, across the country’s 29 paediatric intensive care units (PICUs).

Every year at around this time, the numbers of very sick children requiring treatment in PICUs increases, as levels of respiratory infection rise. The demand for critical care beds is exacerbated by wider pressures across the NHS system and social care, as winter starts to bite.

The Surge procedure, originally published in 2013, has been updated and will be circulated directly to all PICUs across England; it will be used by hospitals to determine the circumstances where rising demand for beds should be escalated and how to do this.

Paediatric intensive care services are one of the subjects of a national review of children’s critical care and specialised surgery, which is being carried out by NHS England.

Dr Peter Wilson, a paediatric intensivist and clinical co-chair of NHS England’s Women & Children Programme of Care, said:

“It is vital that everybody working in paediatric critical care services familiarises themselves with the Surge procedure, as this will enable us to respond, at a regional and national level to rising and unmanageable demand for services. This will help us to work with services to plan effectively and ensure children have ready access to care as close to home as possible.

“The capacity and resilience of our paediatric critical care services are an important part of NHS England’s current review of services, and we will be working closely with key stakeholders to identify solutions to improve services for the future”.

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