The Paediatric Critical Care Unit is such an important part of our hospitals; here the sickest children receive round the clock care from a team of expert clinicians and nurses.

Babies and children recovering from surgery, who have been in serious accidents, or have major neurological, cardiac or respiratory issues are looked after by a dedicated multi-disciplinary team that includes, paediatricians, anaesthetists, intensivists and highly trained intensive care nurses, physiotherapists and pharmacists.

Around 1,000 young patients are cared for here every year – children from across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Northamptonshire and in some cases across the UK.

Our charity understands just how hard it is to be a parent with a child in ‘PICU’, as it is commonly known, so when the team working there asked for support to make the Parents’ Room more comfortable we were delighted to be able to help.

Equally, looking after the wellbeing of staff who have to cope with such an intensely emotional job is really important - so we were pleased to be able to fund a refurbishment of the staff room as well.

Like everything we do – this is possible thanks to the donations, fundraising and Gifts in Wills from our amazing community of supporters.

If you have spent time within PICU you will know just how high tech much of the equipment is, and as a charity, we are always keen to help keep hospital areas like this at the forefront of technology and innovation.

In life-or-death situations having the very best kit really makes a difference.

And we are delighted that we have just taken delivery of a new EEG machine for the Paediatric Critical Care team.

This is a big step forward and will improve the monitoring and treatment of young patients with acute neurological and neurosurgical diseases on the unit.

Children in PICU often receive continuous general anaesthetic medications and muscle paralytic drugs to protect the brain from evolving damage and to help their bodies cope with mechanical respiration. They are effectively in an induced coma – and the EEG machine we have funded will help clinicians monitor for signs of seizures that could otherwise go undetected.

This new equipment, costing £55,000, is now being installed and we are excited to hear feedback from the teams about the impact it will have. Dr Avishay Sarfatti, Consultant Paediatric Intensivist, told us:

"Introducing cutting edge continuous EEG monitoring to Paediatric Critical Care is a huge achievement.

"This will allow us to monitor the function of the brain in a child in an induced coma where it would otherwise be very difficult to do. This – and these other advances - are only made possible through generous donations to our hospital charity and we are very grateful for your help.”

Monitoring the health of young patients with serious neurological injuries as closely as possible is absolutely key – and another piece of equipment for the unit recently funded by the charity, called a ‘pupilometer’, is helping staff obtain precise information.

Dr Sarfatti explains: "The kit digitally measures pupil dilation and responsiveness rather than relying on human assessment - enabling staff to have a non-subjective view on the child’s clinical condition, trending over time, and make better informed decisions with confidence."

We have also recently purchased three Butterfly Ultrasound Probes. These are all-in-one portable probes that connect to an iPad, so are much easier to use and more convenient than other equipment, especially when portable equipment is needed, such as on retrieval or when resuscitating children in other areas of the hospital.

The crystal in the probe is placed in such a way that a single probe can perform an ultrasound of the entire body, and the advanced software system means we’ll have the highest quality visualisation out there, information that can also be quickly shared with other teams.

While innovative equipment makes a huge difference, getting a critically ill child to the unit as quickly and safely as possible is also of great importance, and having the right equipment can save vital minutes. 

So we are really pleased to announce the funding of another big improvement, a high-tech Retrieval Trolley funded by the charity, thanks to donations and fundraising from a very special family.

This bespoke transportation bed helps to get children to Critical Care via ambulance from surrounding district general hospitals. It is configured to hold an array of medical equipment and monitoring systems, and the team using it can easily see and operate the monitors when in transit.

Having this specialist trolley with all the necessary equipment attached saves the team time when preparing to leave the unit and reach the poorly child. The team are delighted and say the quicker patients can reach them the better for families, both in terms of patient outcomes and of course stress levels for those involved.

In total, the charity provided over £100,000 of funding to this area in recent months – much of this was donated by some very special families, who understand very deeply how important PICU is -  including the friends and families of Bobby Cox and Amy Evans.  

We thank them – and all our supporters - deeply, for helping to make such a difference at the most difficult point in families’ lives. 

If you would like to talk about how you can help us continue to fund innovative equipment and hugely improved hospital spaces like this, do call 01865 743444 or email [email protected].