Paediatric Critical Care

Paediatric critical care (PCC) is a specialised service that looks after sick children aged 0-16 in hospital. This ranges from recognition and stabilisation of a sick or injured child on a general ward, to enhanced observation and monitoring in a high dependency unit (HDU), through to providing highly specialist care within a paediatric intensive care unit (PICU). 

Demand for PCC services is increasing by around 5% per year. In England, around 16,500 critically ill children are admitted to PICUs every year, with around 8-10% of children admitted to hospital going on to require high dependency care.

The GIRFT report for paediatric critical care makes specific recommendations which aim to reduce regional variation in out of area transfers, improve the ‘step-up, step down’ process (the safe movement of patients between critical and moderate care services) and the development of a well-defined educational strategy within regional networks.

Professor Kevin Morris​

Paediatric Critical Care Clinical Lead

Professor Morris has been a consultant in paediatric intensive care at Birmingham Children’s Hospital since 1997. He trained in paediatrics in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Birmingham before undertaking fellowships in paediatric critical care in Toronto, Canada and Melbourne, Australia. His clinical and research interests include management of traumatic brain injury, lung mechanics and mechanical ventilation, and the provision of critical care beyond the intensive care unit.

He has held a number of national roles including: president of the Paediatric Intensive Care Society (PICS) from 2010-13; chair of the PIC national training committee (RCPCH CSAC) from 2007-10; chair of the PIC Expert Working Group for Healthcare Resource Groups (HRGs) from 2008 to present; member of the steering group of the Paediatric Intensive Care Audit Network (PICANet) from 2006-16; and member of the NHSE Clinical Reference Group for PIC from 2011-15.

In recent years, his focus has been on how to adapt services to deliver safe, effective critical care to children outside of the ICU. He led the RCPCH/PICS project ‘High Dependency Care: Time to move on’ (2014), and the development of ‘Quality Standards for the Care of Critically Ill Children’ (2015).

‘Data spotlight’ on paediatric critical care (PCC) services aims to improve experience for both patients and NHS staff

Delivering more critical care for sick children beyond the intensive care unit – and developing a suitably skilled workforce to support this – can help to relieve pressure on services and ensure children are seen as close as possible to their family home, according to the latest report from the Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) programme.

Improving patient flow to support better patient outcomes and experience, understanding and responding to capacity and demand, supporting and developing the PCC workforce are key recommendations from the report.

The report offers an unprecedented range of data to describe the current landscape of PCC services and how services are used at both provider and network levels.

Find out more about GIRFT’s data-led approach and best practice resources:

In April 2022, GIRFT published its national speciality report for Paediatric Critical Care:

Click above to view the pdf report (via Future NHS)

Watch the video about our Paediatric Critical Care report…

Click above to play the Paediatric Critical Care national report video