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On the day of your child's operation

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.

On the day of your operation – video transcript

Remember to bring your red book and your letter with you. You will also need to follow the instructions given to mum and dad about eating and drinking.

Once on the ward, a friendly nurse will show you where your bed is. You'll have a locker to put clothes and pyjamas in, and really important stuff like your toys and your smartphones. If you have been asked to stay overnight then there is also pull down bed for either your mum or your dad to sleep on but you must choose who gets to stay.

For adults, there is a kitchen to make drinks and heat up food. And if you need the toilet, fear not, they're everywhere!

If you have any questions then just ask. Or if you can't find a nurse then simply press your orange button and one will come and help you.

There is also a play specialist who might come and see you. And let's not forget the occasional visits of Nala the dog. Wait a minute that's not Nala! Ahhh, that's better. If you're with us for a while, the Evelina Hospital School is open during normal school hours so you can still learn loads of fun stuff while you're with us.

On the day of the operation you'll get weighed again. You'll also get asked some more questions. Only this time, you get your own identity bracelet!

Now the first doctor you will meet is the anaesthetist. "What's one of them?" I hear you say. Well, she's a super amazing person who uses the powers of science and medicine to put you to sleep to keep you safe and sound until the operation is all over so you can finally go back to having fun with your family and friends. And she even fights crime on the weekends! The anaesthetist will first explain the recommended way for you to drift off to sleep for your operation. You will also get the chance to ask any questions that you may have. You might also get given some magic cream which makes your hand go all numb ready for when they see you again.

Once the whole operation has been explained, mum and dad will need to sign a consent form for it to go ahead. This is a normal procedure folks, you will be marked out of 10 for your handwriting!

When it's time, a nurse will come to collect you or a porter will arrive to wheel you down to the anaesthetic room and yes, mum and dad can come along as well. The anaesthetic room is right next door to the operating theatre and everyone here wears blue clothing. They'll give you some sticky pads for your chest and a peg for your finger. Now remember having the magic cream earlier? Well what happens next is that they give you your own magic tap for your hand, followed by some magic medicine which looks like vanilla milkshake and this will help you to sleep. And yes mums, now is the moment when you give them the big wet kiss!

The other way, if recommended, is to have a cool space mask that smells of yummy, yummy sweets, and it slowly sends you off to the land of nod. Both ways are super safe and both give you super awesome dreams.

When you wake back up you'll be in a different room and the operation will be over. It will probably feel very strange and it can be a little distressing but there'll be loads of nurses dressed in maroon scrubs looking after you. And mum and dad can come and visit right away.

Once you feel comfortable you can return to the children's ward with your mum and dad and think about the incredible journey that you've been on. When you feel ready again you can play! Yeah!

Goodbye folks.


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.

Where to go

You should book into Ocean reception on the ground floor of Evelina London Children's Hospital before heading up to your child's ward.

The letter you received about your child's procedure will tell you which ward you need to go to.

Admission information

More information about your child's admission into hospital can be found in our Admission information for operations of planned tests leaflet (PDF 220Kb).


Lead nurse for pre-assessment

Tel: 020 7188 7188, extension 56222.

Bed manager

Tel: 020 7188 7188

Choose the option for the bleep desk.
Once connected, dial bleep number 0821 and wait for the response. This number can be contacted 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

What is a general anaesthetic?

This means that your child will be going to sleep for their operation or planned test.

More information can be found on our general anaesthetic leaflet (PDF 77Kb)

British Medical Association Patient Information Award

The films Pre-assessment and Operations: What to Expect at Evelina London were awarded Runner-Up at the 2017 Patient Information Awards.

BMA Patient information awards runner up

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