Preparing for your child's operation
At the clinic appointment, once a date has been agreed for your child’s operation, your child will see the nurse for a pre-operative assessment at the end of the clinic appointment. The nurse will give you and your child information about what will happen on the ward and will answer any questions that you have. You will also be advised about fasting instructions (when to stop eating and drinking) before the surgery. If you are unable to come to the ward for a face-to-face pre-operative assessment, please phone the ward on 020 7566 2595 and a nurse will be able to ask the necessary questions and give fasting advice over the phone. It is unlikely that you will need to come to the hospital for this check.
If your child becomes ill with a cold, cough, chest infection or disease such as chickenpox before their admission please phone the ward for advice.
The ward number is 020 7566 2595 and should be on your child's admission letter. We advise you to phone between 10 am and 5pm, Monday to Friday for non-urgent advice or from 7.30am if it is urgent. The ward is not open at night or on bank holidays.
Please ensure that you have a supply of paracetamol appropriate for your child’s age in case your child is uncomfortable after discharge.
A few days before admission, it is important for you to explain to your child – simply and truthfully – what will happen. Brothers and sisters are important too, so please include them; depending on their age, they may well be a help. When talking with your child, you could give a brief, simple explanation using phrases such as “special sleep” for anaesthetic. Your child could be told that when the special sleep is over, their eye will feel a little uncomfortable and sore, but that the discomfort will not last very long because their eye has been made better. It is often a good idea to let your child set the pace and for you to answer honestly within your child’s own understanding.
Also tell them about the doctors who sometimes wear coloured theatre clothes with special paper hats and nurses with different coloured polo shirts; explain that they are there to help people to get better. It is always advisable to answer questions as truthfully as you can; we will too - although we appreciate that this is often easier said than done.
Your child will not be allowed to eat or drink for some time before their surgery – if they do, the anaesthetic will have to be cancelled because of the risk of dangerous consequences, particularly the inhalation of food from the stomach while under the anaesthetic. Please ensure that you follow the fasting instructions given by the nurse or doctor.
What to bring
Please bring all medication that your child is taking with you. We supply brightly coloured theatre gowns for children to wear during the operation, but if your child prefers to wear their own pyjamas/nightie and dressing gown please bring these as well. The pyjamas and nighties must not have any metal poppers or studs.
Make sure you bring your child’s favourite toy or cuddly blanket – even if it is old or worn. Remember to mark them with your child’s name in case they get mislaid during your visit.
If your child has special dietary needs, such as gluten-free or purees, please bring appropriate snacks with you and discuss this with the nurse who admits your child. Please be aware that we are unable to cook or reheat any food for patients or their families. Baby feeds will be warmed in a jug of hot water, not in a microwave. If your baby takes formula milk, please bring this with you already prepared.
Snacks and drinks will be provided for your child when they have recovered from the anaesthetic on the ward, and there are various food and drink outlets in all our locations for parents.
Please check with the nurses before giving drinks and food to your child after their return to the ward and please remember that other children could be waiting for surgery and will not be allowed to eat or drink; please do not share food or drinks with other children.
Please do not bring electrical appliances that require plugging into an electrical socket. You are welcome to bring laptops or games powered by batteries, but please be aware that these items will be your responsibility and in your safekeeping.
On the day of your child's operation
Your child must be accompanied by a parent or guardian with legal parental responsibility. We need to know if a family member has an infection as this is could affect your child’s anaesthetic or surgery.
Please arrive on the ward at the time stated in your admission letter. Each child is individually assessed and admitted while accompanied by their parent/guardian. You and your child will meet the surgeon who will discuss the operation and obtain your consent. You will also meet the anaesthetist who will explain the type of anaesthetic and pain relief that your child is going to be given. Parents sometimes forget about something they mean to ask, so please feel free to ask questions later; our staff are always happy to answer any queries.
You will need to remain with your child on the ward throughout their preparation for surgery and also their recovery after the operation. For your child’s safety, we require that cot sides are left up on beds and cots at all times when the child is in bed. Your child will remain on the ward until they have recovered from the anaesthetic and surgery. Children must be able to drink water or squash without being sick before they are discharged from the ward and snacks such as sandwiches, fruit, yoghurts and ice creams are also provided by the ward staff. If your child is uncomfortable after their operation, the nurses will provide appropriate pain relief.
There is a playroom staffed by a play specialist who supplies games, children's DVDs, toys and books, as well as other other activities such as painting and drawing. Older children usually prefer to bring their own books into hospital.
Please make appropriate travelling arrangements before your child is admitted for their operation. We suggest that you arrange for brothers and sisters to be collected from school or nursery by a friend or relative as we are unable to predict your child's exact time of discharge; children differ in their recovery from anaesthetics. When your child is able to go home, the nurse will give you information about their care at home, and an emergency telephone number. You will be given a supply of any medication required and an appointment for follow up in the outpatient clinic. On the first working day following your child's operation, a ward nurse will phone to check whether you have any problems and to give advice if needed.