Coming in for an operation


Coming into hospital can sometimes be a bit scary for young children, so you'll be asked to come in for a pre-admission appointment to help you feel less worried. You'll be able to visit the ward where you'll stay, meet the nurses and learn more about what it'll be like in hospital.

The pre-admission team will also make sure that you're ready for your operation. They'll do any tests that you need and check out any medical conditions you have. They'll also arrange for you to see an anaesthetist if they think you need to.

Videos for Children

If your child is nervous about their operation or just interested in knowing more, take a look at our fun videos to find out what happens when you come in for an operation. The videos below are in a playlist so you can click the button in the top right corner of the video to select which one you want or just play the video to watch them all.

Nil by mouth

Make sure you know the last time you can eat or drink. It will be in your letter telling you when to come in for your operation.

It is important that your child continues to drink up until the time you have been told to stop. This will help keep your child hydrated and also helps with recovery after their operation.

Ring if unwell

Please make sure you let us know if your child is unwell before the operation. You can call pre-admissions on 0121 333 9543 or your doctor’s secretary to get advice.


Regular medication should be taken as usual unless the nurse/doctor has told you not to have it before your operation.

Please remember to bring in all your medication and inhalers into hospital.

Theatre times

If you have been asked to come in at 7.30am your operation will be between 9.00am and 1.00pm.

If you have been asked to come in at 12.00pm your operation will be between 1.30pm and 5.00pm.

If you have been asked to come in at 4.00pm your operation will be between 5.00pm and 8.00pm.

You are asked to come in earlier so that you can be seen by your doctor, anaesthetist and the nurse. We will not know exactly when your child is going to theatre, but the doctors will have a better idea when you are admitted on the day.

Coming in for inpatient surgery

If you are staying overnight, you will be asked to go to the Play & Admissions Centre. This is where you will be seen by the nurse, doctor and anaesthetist and your child will be able to play before they go for their operation. When it is your turn to go for your operation, the nurse will take you and your child to the theatre. They will then take you to the ward where your child will be staying after the operation. You will know which ward this is before you go for your operation.

If you are staying overnight, please make sure you bring a small overnight bag, including a favourite toy or blanket. Wi-Fi is available in the hospital - just ask for the details for phones and tablets.

One adult can stay overnight. If you need information about other accommodation please see our parent accommodation section for more information.

Coming in for day case surgery

If you are coming in for a day case operation you will need to go to the ward on your letter.

Once your child has had their operation and is awake and had a small snack, you will be discharged home. This can be as soon as an hour after their operation.

Preventing infection

A lot of bugs which can cause infection live on the skin and having an operation increases the risk of them getting inside the body and causing infection. It is very important that your child has a thorough body and hair wash or shower:

  • The night before their operation
  • And on the day of surgery.

This will help to keep your child safe from a hospital-acquired infection, which means they can go home on time.

Learning disability

If your child has a learning disability and you are concerned about their stay in hospital, we can try and help.

We also have a learning disability team that can be contacted on: 0121 333 8048

If your child has a learning disability passport, please bring it to hospital with you.

Talking to your child

It is really important that you are honest with your child – make sure they know they are coming into hospital.

Use story books and play to get them ready – if you feel your child needs more preparation let us know and we can talk to a play specialist.

When to talk to your child:

  • 2-3yrs old – tell them the day before
  • 4-7yrs old tell them 4-7 days before
  • 8 years and over – involve them in all decisions.

Explaining to your child why he or she is coming into hospital is so important and makes a huge difference. Children need to be reassured in a way that works for them.  

  • Choose a time when it is quiet and you won't be interrupted 
  • Useful books you can find in your local library include:
    • When I went to Hospital by Juliet Bawden
    • Going Into Hospital  by Anne Civardi
  • You can contact our Play and Admissions team on 0121 333 8650 for more help. The staff there will be happy to advise you or can arrange to see your child before their admission
  • Encourage your child to play with a hospital set if you have one, or pretend to be doctors and nurses
  • Plan with your child: decide what special toy to take with them, help them choose which pyjamas to take or buy something new to take with them, such as a new toothbrush

If your child is going to have an operation, answer their questions honestly. Explain that they will have a 'special sleep' when they undergo the anaesthetic and that they might feel a little sore afterwards, but the nurses will give them some medicine to help them feel better. Reassure your child that you will be able to stay with them.