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More about acute children's services Picture of three small lines which when clicked on activate a menu with links to other pages

Acute children's services

Starfish ward

Starfish is a 20-bed general paediatric ward caring for children and young people up to the age of 16 years. The ward cares for children with both medical and surgical conditions and also has two high-dependency beds. 

Location Level one, Women's and Children's building, Watford General Hospital

  • Ward Manager 01923 217651
  • Nurses' Station 01923 217357
  • Hours of Service 24 hours a day - 7 days a week.

On arrival you will be greeted by a member of the ward team and shown to your child's bed.

As part of the admissions process you and your child will be shown around the ward and introduced to members of the team.

You and your child will also be asked a number of questions by both nursing and medical staff to ensure we have relevant and appropriate information about your child.

The nurses work 12-hour shifts, and there are two nursing shifts a day:

  • Shift 1: 7:30am - 8:00pm
  • Shift 2: 7:30pm - 8:00am

For each of these shifts you will be allocated designated nurses, who will introduce themselves and answer any questions you may have.

The purpose of the Starfish Ward at Watford General Hospital is to provide children and young people in West Hertfordshire with overnight hospital care in an appropriate environment.

Starfish Ward has a range of staff and facilities that enables it to care and cater for young people across a wide age range, as well as their families or carers. These include:

The Play Room

The ward has a playroom where your child can play. The ward play specialist can arrange craft activities or your child can play with the toys or read the books. There is also a sensory area within the playroom for younger children and children with learning disabilities. This was paid for using funds which were kindly donated to the service. For most of the day the play specialist will supervise the area, however you are still responsible for watching your child, particularly when the play specialist is with another child elsewhere

Play Specialist

Time in hospital can be very stressful for children. Hospital play specialists provide play programmes for children in hospital. Hospital play specialists have an important role in using play to involve children in normal activities and to entertain them. They also help children to understand medical procedures, overcome any fears they may have about being in hospital and cope with pain or the side effects of medication.

Adolescent Room

The ward has an adolescent room, which is available to young people aged between 11 and 16 years. The room is equipped with a television, computers, Playstations, books and board games. The computers have protected internet access, however, if your child would like to use the internet, then we will need your written consent.

Parents' Room

The ward provides a room for parents, where they can watch television, read or simply relax. The room is equipped with a fridge, microwave and kettle. Please feel free to store snacks and drinks etc in the fridge, but please ensure they are correctly labelled. Tea and coffee is provided free of charge.



Mobile phones may be used on the ward, but in doing so we ask that you respect other patients and relatives.

Interpreter Service

If English is not your first language we can provide an interpreter. If your child's admission is planned, and you require an interpreter, it would be helpful if you let us know in advance. When your appointment is made please let us know if you would like us to arrange one. This service is free of charge. If your child's admission is unplanned, and you require an interpreter, then please inform the nurse on admission.

Meal Times

Breakfast 7:30am - 9:00am
Lunch 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Dinner 5:00 pm – 6:00pm

Please inform your child's designated nurse if they have any specific dietary requirements; e.g. vegetarian or faith based. Please feel free to bring any food or drink that you may require. There is a parents' room where this can be prepared.

Infection control

To try to prevent cross-infection, we ask all visitors to the ward including staff, patients and parents, to rub alcohol gel onto their hands before they enter the unit. Alcohol gel dispensers are located at the main entrance to the ward.

Hands should be kept clean whilst on the ward, this is particularly important before and after direct patient contact and also before meal times.


Help us to keep your child safe by:

  • Not letting on to the ward anyone you do not know.
  • Not taking your child off the ward until the doctor has discharged them.


Please ensure you only park in the designated visitors’ parking areas. It you park in the staff car parks then you will receive a parking fine.

» View parking details, including charges

Parking Permits

If your child is admitted to Starfish Ward for more than 24 hours, then you will be entitled to a parking permit.

Parking Spaces for Disabled Drivers

There are spaces for disabled drivers available outside the Women's and Children's Building.


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