Coming to hospital for an operation or planned test as a child can feel scary and unfamiliar. Here is some information about what you can expect to happen on the day of your child's operation.
Watch our specially made film with your child to help prepare them for their stay in hospital. You can also watch our film about what will happen at the pre-assessment clinic your child will come to before their operation.
Before you arrive
It is really important that you follow the advice given to you about when your child can last eat or drink. This can be found on the letter that you will have received about your child’s operation or planned test. If you do not follow this advice, we will not be able to operate on your child as it will not be safe.
Learn more about why your child is not allowed to eat or drink before their operation (PDF 77Kb).
If your child is unwell in the days leading up to their operation or planned test, please let us know by calling the bed manager.
We suggest that you bring an overnight bag for your child (and one for yourself if you wish to stay with them) in case your child needs to stay in hospital overnight.
On the ward
- A doctor from the team caring for your child will visit you on the ward. They will go through your child’s operation with you again and will ask you to sign a consent form. The form must be signed by a parent/legal guardian of the child who has the power to consent.
- An anaesthetist will also come to talk to you. They are responsible for sending your child to sleep for their operation. They also care for your child throughout the operation and immediately afterwards.
In the anaesthetic room
- Your child needs to be in a deep sleep before they can have their operation. This is called having a general anaesthetic. We'll take your child to the anaesthetic room next to the operating theatre to do this.
- You can go with your child to the anaesthetic room and wait with them until they have fallen asleep. A nurse will come with you and then take you back to the ward once your child is sleeping.
- The anaesthetist will use either a special gas delivered through a mask or by inserting a cannula (small plastic tube) into your child’s hand. General anaesthetic (sleeping) medicine can then be given through the tube.
- You will not be able to go with your child into the operating theatre or watch the operation from outside.
In the recovery room
- Once your child begins to wake up, you may be able to come and sit with them in the recovery room whilst the anaesthetic wears off.
- When your child is fully awake and comfortable, they will be able to go back to the ward.
Back on the ward
- You will be given advice about when your child can eat and drink from the nurse caring for your child.
- If your child has had a ‘day case operation’ they will be able to go home 4-6 hours after the operation, once they have had something to eat and drink and have passed urine.
- If your child needs to stay overnight, one parent or guardian will be able to stay over with them. There will be a pull down bed next to your child’s for you to sleep in. No other children will be able to stay. Please see accommodation for more information about where your family can stay.