St Thomas' Hospital
6th floor, North Wing
Westminster Bridge Road
London SE1 7EH
Main reception: 020 7188 4045
Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU): 020 7188 8847
Special care baby unit (SCBU): 020 7188 8846
This page is aimed at parents whose baby may need to stay in the neonatal unit. It provides information on the unit, its facilities and the care you can expect for your baby.
Information for visitors
To reduce the risk of infections anyone with a cough or cold should avoid visiting the unit.
When you arrive at the unit:
tell the receptionist who you are visiting and sign in
please remove your coat or outdoor clothing
wash your hands in the sinks on the left-hand side
you can use the lockers provided, but please make sure you empty the locker every day
please wash your hands again when you enter your baby's room.
The unit is open 24 hours a day, but only parents can visit after 8pm. Other visitors are allowed in with permission after 9am. Please note that the nurses change shifts from 7.30am - 8.15am and 7.30pm to 8.15pm. To allow the nurses to hand over your child's care, no-one will be allowed onto the unit during these times.
For security reasons, friends and family can visit the unit, but only when a parent is present. Each baby can have a maximum of 2 visitors at any one time. Brothers and sisters of your baby are allowed on the unit, but no other children.
About the unit
Our doctors and nurses are very experienced at caring for unwell babies. The unit provides specialist equipment and care for:
babies born early (prematurely)
babies with health problems diagnosed before birth (antenatally) or after birth (postnatally)
full-term babies who have unexpectedly become unwell
Our unit is split into two areas:
Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)
The NICU looks after babies that need extra care, for example if they are extremely premature, have heart conditions or need surgical care. The unit has 16 cots over 3 rooms and babies from surrounding hospitals may be brought here.
The nurses generally look after 2 babies per shift and we try to involve you in the care of your baby as much as possible.
Special care baby unit (SCBU)
The SCBU provides 'step-down' care for babies who no longer need intensive care. It has 24 cots over 4 rooms. The nurses generally care for 4 babies at a time and we expect you to become more involved in your baby's daily routine.
What you can expect while your baby is on the unit
The sister or charge nurse runs each shift in both the intensive Care (NICU) and special care (SCBU) areas. He/she makes sure that each baby has a nurse responsible for their daily care.
There is a ward round every morning for both areas. You will be asked to leave the room during this time or when the doctors and nurses perform certain procedures/treatments. However, you are welcome to be in the room once the ward round reaches your baby.
If your baby has been transfered to our unit from another hospital, we will assess him/her on a daily basis. When well enough, your baby will be transferred back to your local hospital.
To help with your baby's development we:
have a 'quiet time' when we we try not to disturb your baby. Visitors are allowed during this time, but are asked to be as quiet as possible. Quiet time is:
2pm - 4pm in the NICU
1pm - 4pm on the SCBU
aim to reduce the noise and lighting at all times
may use incubator covers or swaddle your baby.
We encourage you to breastfeed or express breast milk, as this is best for your baby, particularly if he/she is premature or unwell. Staff are available to help you with feeding or expressing milk for your baby.
There is a parents room off the main reception area where you can rest, watch television and make something to eat or drink.
This room is not for visitors and if you bring your children with you, you must supervise them at all times.
Can I use my mobile phone on the unit?
Please turn your mobile phone off while you are in the unit as it can interfere with the specialist electrical equipment. You can use your phone in the main reception or in the lift lobby if you need to.
Staying overnight on the unit
We have 3 'rooming in' rooms where both parents can stay overnight with their baby before taking him/her home. We encourage you to 'room in' for 1 - 2 nights before your baby is due to leave, as this helps to increase your confidence in caring for your baby.