About CATS

The Children’s Acute Transport Service (CATS) is an intensive care transport team serving around 50 hospitals in the North Thames, Essex, Herts, Beds, and East Anglia regions in England. It is one of the largest specialist paediatric retrieval services in Europe. The CATS team take the skills of a paediatric intensive care unit ‘on the road’, to the bedside of critically ill children at general hospitals without specialist paediatric services, and ensure safe and rapid transfer to a paediatric intensive care unit (PICU).

History of CATS

Inter-hospital transport services developed in response to the centralisation of specialist services such as intensive care. In the past retrievals were generally undertaken by staff despatched from the receiving intensive care unit. Regional transport teams allow concentration of expertise and often serve as a single point of contact for immediate advice, information on an appropriate ICU bed and access to a specialist team.

The need for the development of regional retrieval services was highlighted by the Secretary of State for Health in May 1996, and reiterated by the Paediatric Intensive Care Framework for the Future 1998, to ensure access to appropriate intensive care for all children.

[break]In 2001, CATS was commissioned as a single regional retrieval service. It is a joint collaboration between Great Ormond Street Hospital, St Mary’s Hospital and the Royal Brompton Hospital, and is governed by Great Ormond Street Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Over the past 10 years CATS has grown exponentially; it now operates a 24 hour service with 2 teams and has retrieved over 12,000 patients from hospitals throughout and beyond the region.