South Thames Retrieval Service (STRS) referrals

For healthcare professionals

Who can refer

We accept any paediatric emergency referrals from clinicians at general district hospitals or Paediatric Intensive Care Units (PICUs) in the UK and abroad. Most referrals to the PICU at Evelina London are coordinated by us.

When to refer

As soon as you recognise a child is critically ill or their condition is getting worse then please call 020 7188 5000.

You can also call us for advice if you believe a child may need intensive care in the near future.

There is no set criteria for referring a child to our service and occasionally the decision to move a child to a PICU is not always clear. We can discuss this with you and offer advice.

If a child is suffering from a condition requiring urgent therapies or surgery (such as neurosurgical and abdominal conditions) we may advise your team to transfer the child. We will advise which PICU to liaise with as well as offer support.

How to refer

Your call will be answered by a doctor or retrieval nurse practitioner from STRS. Please be prepared to answer the questions detailed in this example referral form (Word 102KB) which we will fill out during the phone call. 

Our team will review the information and aim to give you a prompt decision. If we decide the child should be moved, we will give you advice on how to start the process to ensure the child and family are safe, stable and comfortable for the journey. You can also refer to our guidelines on patient stabilisation.

If the child has been treated at a PICU in the past, or there is a particular PICU you think the child should be treated at, then please let us know.

We decide which PICU is the most appropriate based on the child's condition, the specialist services offered at the unit and how close the unit is to the child’s home.

Please make sure you let parents know what is going on during this referral time. Do not let parents leave the hospital before we arrive in case a decision is made at the last minute to change which PICU the child is taken to.

We usually transport children in one of our specially-designed ambulances, however, for longer distance transfers we may use a helicopter provided by Children's Air Ambulance or a plane.

Transporting a child from intensive care to a general district hospital

When a child no longer requires intensive care, we can facilitate moving them from a PICU to a general district hospital.

The logo for the South Thames Retrieval Service (STRS).


Emergency referrals

Phone: 020 7188 5000

Non-urgent enquiries

Please email or contact the STRS link consultant for your region