University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust

Diagnosis and treatment

doctor and nurse at cot

The unit provides high quality care for pre-term and full-term babies (neonates) requiring intensive and specialist care.

In addition to the intensive medical and surgical care facilities available, other procedures and interventions can be performed on the unit including eye screening and laser treatment.

Specialist services

We have close links with Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), and specialist and general paediatric services within SUHT.

A wide range of other paediatric services available within SUHT are provided on the unit, including neonatal and cardiac surgery.

Surgical neonatal care is led by an experienced multi-professional team. Specialist information and support for parents of babies needing surgical services is available pre-natally, during admission and following discharge from hospital.

Neonatal care

There are different levels of neonatal care provided on NICU, which include:

Intensive care

This facility is for neonates needing ventilation, premature babies weighing less than 1,000g and/or babies born at less than 28 weeks gestation, and for babies with severe respiratory disease or who need major surgery.

High dependency care

This is for babies that require respiratory support, intravenous nutrition and additional care that is greater than special care.

Special care

Special care is for babies who need constant monitoring of respiration or heart rate, are receiving extra oxygen or being tube fed.

Women and their babies arrive at NICU through several routes:

  • Women who are booked to deliver in Princess Anne Hospital's labour ward and their baby requires neonatal care on the NICU
  • Women with complications during pregnancy, who have been referred to the Wessex Fetal Medicine Unit and deliver at PAH. Specialist postnatal care will be provided for their baby on the unit. This usually includes babies with antenatally diagnosed conditions requiring surgery, specialist care or premature babies.
  • Premature and term babies transferred from district hospitals in the region for neonatal intensive and specialist care. These babies may have a condition requiring neonatal surgery or specialist paediatric services available in SUHT.

NICU cares for babies from within the Central Coast South Neonatal Network, Jersey and the Channel Islands. However, we also take babies from other parts of the country for specialised care when needed. 


Bereavement support is provided by a dedicated team and supported by the hospital Chaplaincy service.

There are weekly parent support group meetings on Wednesday mornings 9.30am - 12 noon for parents and those returning with their babies for ongoing support and monitoring with special needs, such as oxygen at home.

We provide antenatal counselling to mothers with a high risk pregnancy, antenatally diagnosed conditions and expected pre-term deliveries. We also provide routine neonatal care of babies born to mothers who are booked in to give birth in Southampton.

Milk bank

The NICU is one of the few centres to operate a donor breast milk bank. The dedicated team collect breast milk from donors across Hampshire – and further afield – and screen, pasteurise, freeze and store the milk for use by sick babies across the country.

Donated breast milk is used to feed certain babies at NICU, when mothers are unable to produce sufficient breast milk for their baby.

Nutrition services

There is a neonatal dietician who has regular involvement at the NICU providing support and advice to staff to optimise neonatal nutrition. There is a regular neonatal nutrition ward round to monitor growth and nutrition of the babies. There is also a dedicated neonatal pharmacist who supervises parental intravenous nutrition to those babies who are not able to be enterally nourished.


There is a dedicated neonatal physiotherapist who is involved in developmental care, respiratory support and assessment of babies. The physiotherapist is also involved with teaching staff and parents in the needs of the babies, the parent support group and in the follow up of babies once they have been discharged.

Speech and language therapy

A speech and language therapist visits the neonatal unit and is involved in developmental care, ensuring optimal oral feeding stimulation and support for breast feeding.

Neonatal hearing screening

There is a dedicated area for neonatal hearing screening to take place for babies at the NICU. This is carried out by a regular team and usually occurs prior to discharge.


Eye screening occurs weekly on the Neonatal Unit and is coordinated by a dedicated member of staff to ensure appropriate screening is carried out with minimal disruption to the babies.