Special care baby unit (SCBU)

Neonatal care: the special care baby unit (SCBU) at the Royal Free Hospital

The Royal Free Hospital operates the special care baby unit for babies born at 34 weeks or over. There are 14 special care cots, and two emergency care cots so staff can stabilise and treat critically ill babies before transferring them to another unit.

This neonatal care unit  is run by neonatal nurses and paediatricians who together provide highly specialised care to treat newborn babies in need.

Visiting the Royal Free SCBU

We operate an open visiting policy for parents visiting the SCBU. All other visitors must be accompanied by one parent when they visit.

Visiting times for relatives are between 10:00am to 7:45pm. Only two visitors are allowed at the bedside at any one time. Siblings may visit during these times, but not other children eg cousins or friends.

There are some times during the day, such as during doctors rounds, when our neonatal nursing team and doctors need to discuss your newborn baby’s care and the care of other babies on the ward in confidence. Parent and patient confidentiality is of the highest importance to us so you will be asked to leave the ward during these times.

Royal Free SCBU ward rounds

Every day a ward round takes place between 9-11am (it may be slightly later at weekends). The neonatal nurse in charge will be able to give you the times.

Doctors, neonatal nurses and other members of the team discuss your baby’s care. We encourage parents and carers to be part of the conversation as it gives you an opportunity to speak to the consultant about any concerns you may have.

If you cannot attend the ward rounds, you will be able to make another appointment with your baby’s consultant to discuss their progress at the special care baby unit. Please ask the neonatal nurse in charge to arrange this for you.

Fighting hospital infections

Hand washing by all parents and visitors is vital, even if you are just popping in quickly, so always wash your hands every time you enter and leave the ward using the cleaning products provided. 

Hospital infections can pose a great risk to sick or premature babies because their ability to fight infection is not as strong as an adult’s. If you feel at all unwell, or believe you have come into contact with someone with a disease, you should discuss with staff on the unit whether it is safe for you to visit.

Read further information for parents and families of babies on the SCBU.

Read our frequently asked questions.