The Neonatal Unit is part of the Paediatric Department.

The Neonatal Unit provides all levels of newborn medical care and intensive care to babies from South Tyneside and Sunderland and across the Northern region. It is also home to an Intensive and High Dependency Care Unit.

Women may be referred during pregnancy, when very early birth is anticipated, or babies transferred to Sunderland for specialist care after delivery in their local hospital. We welcome pre-admission visits from parents when admission is anticipated.

About one baby in ten needs additional medical care in the newborn period, with about one in a 100 requiring intensive care.  Wherever possible, we aim to keep mothers and babies together.

The Neonatal Unit is able to care for up to 16 babies at a time between 9 special care cots and 7 intensive/high dependency care cots. We also have 2 parent and baby rooms for 'rooming in' before going home. 'Rooming in' is when you stay with your baby for a few days to get more confident caring for your baby in preparation for leaving the unit.

We have a sitting room with TV and a kitchen with free tea and coffee for parents. We have accommodation on the hospital site for parents who live some distance away.

The unit’s philosophy of care is to provide the highest standard of neonatal care in a family orientated environment. Each and every baby is treated as an individual with unique needs, and we include the emotional and social needs of all babies into our care to support their development and recovery.

Useful Info

  • The Northern Neonatal Network has also developed a very handy app, which includes information for families of premature and sick babies, with key information our hospital and neonatal unit.
  • The BLISS website also have lots of great online resources including video tour of a unit, different levels of care and how to be involved

Visiting Policy

Parents are our partners in caring for their babies. There are no restrictions on visiting and you are welcomed and encouraged to be with your baby at any time – day or night. To avoid overcrowding, which can increase infection risk to the babies, we aim to have only two visitors at each cot side.

If parents are unable to visit through sickness or need to be at home for other reasons, we have a video-conferencing facility (V-Create) which allows parents and families to see babies and speak to staff members. Please speak to the nurse looking after your baby if you would like to use this facility.

Nursing team

The nursing team, led on each shift by nurse in charge, are responsible for planning and co-ordinating nursing care and are happy to speak to any parent.

The senior nurses are known as sister or charge nurse and wear navy uniforms. Staff nurses wear light blue uniform. All babies will have a nurse allocated to their care on each shift.

As a neonatal unit within a teaching hospital we will often have student nurses working under the supervision of a registered nurse. Babies needing less technical care may be allocated to the care of a nursery nurse (red uniform) who will work in partnership with colleagues in the nursing team.

Health Care Assistants in beige uniform help nursing staff with equipment preparation and cleaning.

During the day a ward clerk is on duty, and may be the first person you meet as you come into the unit. They will often open the door buzzer and if no ward clerk is on duty the door buzzer will be answered by the clinical staff.

Although we will try our best to keep delays to a minimum at times all staff may be busy with a baby.  We hope that you do not have to wait too long and will understand that the babies always have to be our first priority.

Contact us

0191 5699153

HDU - 42159

Finding us

The Neonatal Unit is located on D level of Sunderland Royal Hospital’s Chester Wing.  It is most easily reached from Chester Road, through the Maternity Block entrance on the right of Chester Road Outpatients Entrance 5.

Our team

Clinical Lead: Dr Imran Ahmed
Consultant Neonatologist: Dr Ruppa Geethanath
Consultant Neonatologist: Dr Lorna Gillespie (Clinical Director for Paediatrics)
Consultant Neonatologist: Dr Chike Onwuneme​​​​​​​
Consultant Neonatologist:​​​​​​​ Dr Otilia Popescu
Consultant Neonatologist:​​​​​​​ Dr Andreas Kakaroukas
Neonatal Unit Manager: Emily Cameron
Directorate Manager: Derek Curry    
​​​​​​​Divisional Director: Claire McManus
Matron: Laura Hayden-Duck