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Dolphin Ward

Ward 32

Welcome to Dolphin Ward

We hope that the following information will be useful to you during your stay on the ward. The information covered here is very general; please do ask one of the ward staff if you are unsure about anything.

Dolphin Ward is on Level 6 (The Blue floor) of the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children.

We are a specialist cardiac ward and cardiac High Dependency Unit (HDU). Children of all ages are admitted to this ward.

There is a mixture of cubicle rooms and four-bedded bays for patients. In all bed-spaces the child can be centrally monitored. The monitors and alarms are linked to a monitor at the nurses' station.

Staffing on HDU is two patients per nurse, as a step-down process from PICU. If HDU is busy, you may have your step-down period on PICU. The ward is staffed with three patients per nurse.

We welcome and encourage parents to carry out as much of their child's care as they wish and where possible to try and maintain children's normal routine.  However, please ask your child's nurse for help if you need it. 

  What to Bring

If you know that your child is going to be staying in hospital overnight, it is a good idea to bring some or all of the following. Please try not to bring in excess items as this will clutter the bed-space, which needs to be kept tidy at all times to allow access to the patient.   

  • Change of clothes
  • Nightwear
  • Nappies
  • Slippers
  • Toothbrush/paste
  • Hairbrush/Comb
  • Toiletries
  • Favourite toy/magazines/books
  • Any medication your child normally takes (this will be kept in the ward drug trolley)
  • Feeding bottles (we provide sterilising bags)
  • Special feeds/milk
  • Change of clothes, nightwear, toiletries etc, for parents' personal use. 


If your child is unwell prior to admission please notify the ward as the admission may need to be arranged for when your child is better.

Please call the ward prior to travel to check that a bed is still available.  Contact information can be found at the bottom of this page. If your bed is not ready when you arrive we will still continue with the admission process and you will be able to wait in the play room/parents' room.

A nurse will welcome you to the ward, and you will then have the opportunity to ask any questions about your child's specific needs.  The hospital passport is available to complete online pre-admission for any child with additional learning needs/disabilities. 

What to Expect

Patients on the ward may be having surgery, cardiac catheterisation or being admitted for monitoring or investigations.  Further information is available in specific information leaflets for surgery and catheterisation.  Please ask your nurse if you have not yet received them. 


  • You are welcome to be with your child at all times. Friends and family may visit after the doctors' ward rounds at approximately 10 a.m. Siblings are also welcome to visit, but we ask for no more than twplay room ward 32o visitors to a bed-space at a time. There is a parents' room where visitors can wait. To help us settle the children, please limit the visitors to just parents after 8 p.m.

  • The door to the unit is controlled by an intercom system and anyone visiting will have to press the buzzer to gain access. This creates a secure environment for all children on the ward. Please ensure that the door is locked behind you when you eter or leave and do not allow anyone you do not recognize to gain entry. We may not always be available to answer the door immediately, so please be patient. We know you are there but we may be caring for a child at the time.

  • If any visitors are unwell we ask them not to visit to protect the children on the ward. Please check with the doctors and nurses to determine what is best.

  • If any visitor has diarrhoea and vomiting they must not visit the ward until 72 hours following the end of symptoms.

  • To reduce infection, please use alcohol gel on entering and leaving the ward.

  • Please check with staff if you have any questions about visitors.

Quiet time

  • Quiet time is between 1 and 2 p.m., during which we encourage children and their families to have some protected rest time, free from procedures and non-urgent investigations.


  • We aim to provide accommodation for parents wishing to stay with their child, but this is not always possible.

  • We have one pull-down bed by your child's bed for one parent to stay on the ward. Parent beds are not available on PICU or the High Dependency Unit. At this time, we encourage parents to get rest away from the ward.

  • In order to help the housekeeping staff to keep the ward environment clean and tidy we would ask you to have the pull-down bed put away by 8 a.m. There is a small locker at each bedside. Please try to keep luggage to a minimum.

  • Parent bathrooms and showers are available on the ward.  If you have any concerns about cleanliness during your stay, please speak to your nurse.

  • There is parent accommodation in Ronald McDonald House, based on St Michael's Hill.  Please let us know on admission if you wish to apply for a room. This facility is provided free of charge, but there is likely to be a waiting list. This cannot be pre-booked and priority will be given to families whose children are in PICU or HDU.

  • We are unable to accommodate siblings overnight on the ward during your admission. However, if this is going to cause difficulties for you, do let us know.

Meals and refreshments

  • There is a variety of pre-packed baby-milks available and the hospital also has a milk-kitchen (Special Feeds Unit) where staff will make up any special feeds that your child may require.

    Food pack
  • For older children there are cereals, bread, sandwiches, yoghurts, crisps and fruit available. Breakfast, lunch and  are provided for your child each day. The housekeeper will order food in the morning and will ask patients for their menu choices. We encourage the child and family to be involved in this. The menu aims to meet most people's needs and vegetarian dishes are available every day, but if you need help with making suitable choices, please speak to the housekeeper.supper

  • There is a snack trolley on the ward where you can help yourself to food and drink for your child. This is usually kept outside of the ward kitchen. Unfortunately parents are not allowed into the kitchen. Please ask the nursing staff for any assistance.

  • There is a parents' and visitors' rest room next to the ward for you to use while you are staying with us. This is shared with Ward 31.  Tea and coffee is provided but you will need to bring in your own milk for drinks.

  • Hot drinks must not be brought back onto the ward for safety reasons. 

  • You can store your own food in the cupboards or fridge-freezer for Dolphin Ward.  Please label your food and take unused items with you when you leave.

  • A microwave, basic crockery and cutlery are provided.  Your assistance in keeping the room tidy and comfortable for everyone's use is greatly appreciated.

  • We ask that parents consume food in this dining room rather than on the ward, as there are children on the ward who are not able to eat or drink and it can cause some distress.
  • There are vending machines where you can buy sandwiches and snacks onLevels 2 and 3(in the outpatients department).  There is also a Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) shop onLevel 2(main entrance) where hot drinks and small selection of hot food is served.  This is open from 8.30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

  • In the Bristol Royal Infirmary (adjacent to the hospital) there are some shopping outlets and coffee shops that are open every day, including W H Smith, Boots, Marks and Spencer's Simply Food and Costa Coffee.

  • There is a Tesco within walking distance (about ten minutes) if you wish to purchase food.

  • Bristol's central shopping area (Broadmead), with all of the usual high street names, is a ten-minute walk from the hospital should you need additional clothing, toiletries etc. during your hospital stay.

  • There are also some leaflets on the notice board near the parents' rest room on the ward detailing local places to eat, or takeaways that deliver to the hospital. Although we do not endorse any of them in particular, some visitors have used them.


Breast Feeding

We support breast-feeding mums. Breast pumps are available from ward staff. If you would like some support or advice on breast-feeding, please speak to your child's nurse.

We offer breast-feeding mothers three meals a day until their child is six months old.  If you would like to access this service, please speak to the housekeeper.



  • We have a well-equipped playroom which we share with Penguin Ward. There is a full-time Play Specialist available during the week.    There are games and activities suitable for older children and teenagers, including DVDs and games consoles. 

  • Play CentreChildren(including brothers and sisters) must be accompanied by an adult whilst in the playroom.
  • There is also an indoor and outdoor play-centre on Level 5 for children who are well enough to leave the ward and for siblings.  Again, an adult must accompany all children.

  • If you bring in any of your child's toys, please ensure that you do not misplace them as we cannot accept responsibility for losses.

  • Wi-Fi access is available.  Requests can be submitted Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.  Please see your nurse or ward clerk for assistance.



People you may see on the ward

Staff who wear uniform

Ward sister or Charge Nurse

You will recognise them by their navy uniform.  They are in overall charge of the ward and can help  if you have any questions your nurse cannot answer.


Matrons look after a group of wards and help support the nursing team.  You can ask to speak to them if you wish.  They wear grey tunics with red piping.

Senior Staff Nurses

These nurses will be in charge of the shift.  They wear a grey striped uniform with dark blue epaulettes.

Staff Nurses

These nurses will provide the majority of your child's care.  They wear a grey striped uniform with light blue epaulettes.  At each shift, a new nurse will be allocated to your child and will introduce themselves, so that you always know your first point of contact for your child's care.

Health care assistants

HCAs provide support to the nursing team.  They wear a grey striped uniform with brown epaulettes

Student nurses

You may meet nurses on placements on the ward who are in training.  They wear a light blue uniform


If your child needs an Echo or ECG, the technician will carry this out. They wear red polo shirts.


Our housekeeper makes sure that all patients have food and clean linen.  She also supports the ward in ordering supplies.  She wears a yellow tunic.


This team make sure the ward is clean and tidy.  They wear green-and-white striped tunics

Play therapists

Our play team wear blue polo shirts.  They are available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to assist with procedure distraction and entertainment at the bedside, in the ward playroom and play centre.


Staff who don't wear uniform


Doctors' ward rounds usually start between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., starting with HDU. One of the consultants will see the children most mornings. This is the time when plans for your child's care are made, so you may wish to be present at this time.  You may wish to have someone with you to support you at this time.

During the day there is a Cardiology Registrar and/or junior doctor on the ward; they organise X-rays and Echos and take blood samples where necessary.  You can make arrangements to talk to the cardiology consultant if you wish by speaking to your child's nurse.

Ward Clerk

They will help welcome you to the ward and make sure we have your correct details.  Please ask them if you need help with any of the practical aspects of your stay, such as where to find parent facilities.


This team is on the ward most days to support special nutrition needs. Please let the nurse looking after your child know if you would like to speak to them. 

Cardiac Nurse Specialists

Our specialist nurses cover the ward every day (Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and will pop in to see you. They will discuss your child's care with you and provide information about their cardiac condition. They can refer you to local support groups and discuss financial and psychological support. If you would like to talk to them more urgently, please ask the nurse looking after your child to contact them.

Clinical Psychologist

The psychologist works Monday and Tuesday mornings and is available if you would like additional support, or to discuss experiences whilst your child is an inpatient.  Please let the nursing staff know if you would like to speak to her.

Anaesthetist- The anaesthetist will come and speak to you prior to theatre or cardiac catheterisation. This is generally the evening before your child's procedure or early on the morning of the procedure.


The surgeon will come and discuss the operation with you, then sign the consent form, usually the evening before surgery.  Please make sure that you are on the ward after 4.30 p.m. the night before surgery so you can meet them.  If your child is in for a cardiac catheter then it will be a cardiologist who does this.

If you think your child would enjoy trying to spot the different staff on the ward, you may like to visit our children's pages to play Uniform Bingo.

 Children's mini site screen shot


When your child is ready to go home, you will need to wait for your discharge letters and discharge medications.  This can sometimes take up until 4 p.m.  Please do not leave until you have received the discharge letter.  The letters will normally advise you of any follow-up appointments. We will also provide you with an information leaflet about your child's procedure and aftercare advice with contact numbers.

If you need advice following discharge you can ring the ward, contact the Cardiac Nurse Specialists or ring your GP.


Additional information

Financial support

This may be available to help with the cost of car parking and travel to the hospital to visit your child through various sources. We also have a Martha Care worker who can offer additional support for longer stay patients. Please ask your child's nurse if you would like to discuss the help that is available.

Interpreter services

Should you require any assistance such as a foreign language or sign language interpreter, please let us know so that we can arrange this for you.

Religious support

The hospital has a multi-faith prayer room located on Level 4, which is always open. The hospital chaplaincy team can be contacted during the day and an out-of-hours/on call service is available. This team is non-denominational and available for all faiths.

Mobile phones

Mobile phones may be used on the ward.  However, we would ask you to keep them on silent for receiving calls and messages. Please do not receive calls late at night on the ward.  Remember to bring your charger with you.

Access to UBHT Wifi

This can be arranged by the ward clerk for patient stays expected to be for more than a few days.  Please ask the ward clerk.

Hospital Car Park Passes

These are available from Main Reception on Level 2 for the families of patients staying overnight. For more information about parking and other parent support, please click here.

Electrical Items

Please be aware that we cannot accept responsibility for expensive items brought into the hospital such as smart phones, laptops, iPads or other electrical items.  You are welcome to use these items but please be aware that staff may need to check that they are safe.

Escalating concerns

If you are concerned about your child, please speak to your named nurse in the first instance.  If you feel that your child requires a clinical review, you can request this from either the on-call consultant or a member of our outreach team and they will discuss your concerns with you and agree any necessary action.  This will be recorded in your child's notes.

Support for you

We know that being in hospital with your child can be a difficult experience.  We want to support you as much as we can but we need to ensure our staff are supported to carry out their work.  If you feel you need help to manage your hospital stay, please let us know.  If you would prefer to speak to someone in confidence, please call our LIAISE team on 0117 342 8065 and they will be able to talk through the options available to you.  They are available Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The NHS has a ZERO tolerance policy on physical or verbal aggression

We value your opinion

We welcome your comments on your stay on Dolphin Ward. You can either complete a comments card, available from our reception desk or ask to speak to the Ward Sister or Nurse in charge.

Useful contact numbers

Dolphin Ward                             0117 342 8332

                                                0117 342 8679

Cardiac Nurse Specialists             0117 342 8286 (8am to 4pm - Answerphone out of hours)

Outpatients                                0117 342 8440 / 8441


Cardiology Secretaries

Cardiology secretaries

Dr. Alison Hayes                          0117 342 8804

Dr. Graham Stuart                        0117 342 8852

Dr. Rob Martin                             0117 342 8855

Dr. Andy Tometzki                        0117 342 8853

Dr. Bev Tsai-Goodman                  0117 342 8862

Dr. Robert Tulloh                          0117 342 8856

Dr. Mark Walsh                             0117 342 8852