This exercise has been conducted to identify the responsiveness to need of the South Thames PICU retrieval service since its inception in 1998.
The purpose of the centralized retrieval service is to ensure that all children in need of care at level 2 or above, (as described in the report of the National Co-ordinating Group on Paediatric Intensive Care to the Chief Executive of the NHS (1) ), should receive that care in a Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), as early as possible in the course of their treatment, and that their transfer into that care from the referring DGH should be conducted as effectively as possible. The population of children in the catchment has been identified. It constitutes all children between the ages of one month and sixteen years, inclusive, in the twelve health Authorities which made up the former South Thames Region. In order to describe need in the population of children in South Thames a number of possible parameters were examined. The need for critical care has been defined as the presence of critical illness. Maybloom et al. (2) define critical illness as the presence of an acute body system failure or multi-system failure, in their audit of North and South Thames Acute Paediatric Care. This definition has been used to provide a proxy for all children needing care in a PICU. However, it may have certain limitations in the way that it is used.