What to expect

The idea of going to hospital may sometimes seem a little scary. They are big, full of people and very different to home. We know it can be daunting - hopefully the tips below will help!
Amadeus and brother Raiyan with the Play Specialist on Dinosaur Ward
In hospital, there is always someone there to look after you. If you need anything they will make sure you have it!

Going to hospital

As soon as you feel poorly and see your doctor there is always someone keeping an eye on your health.

It might be the nurse who brings your medication, the surgeon who does your operation or the chef who makes your food. You couldn't be in better hands!

Expert help

Luke Murphy, who works here at Great Ormond Street Hospital, says: "All the doctors, nurses and other members of staff that work in a hospital are specially trained to care for people and to look after their health.
"Every single patient is important, and everyone at the hospital works hard to make sure they get the most out of their stay."

Why am I going to hospital?

There are a number of ways you may end up going to hospital. These include:
  • An accident or emergency – for example if you fell and broke a bone, or had a bad asthma attack.
  • A long-term illness – perhaps you have a condition that means you regularly go to hospital for check-ups, scans, or treatment.
  • You may also visit your doctor if you feel ill and they might 'refer' you to someone at the hospital for an appointment.
  • You might be booked in to have an operation or special medical treatment.

What happens when I get there?

When you arrive you should speak to someone at the main reception. Ask them where to go.

Sometimes you will have an appointment letter which tells you which bit of the hospital to go to – you can ask the receptionist for directions.

You might have to wait a little while before you meet your doctor, nurse or specialist.

This is because they are really busy – but they'll still have plenty of time to help you!

What's inside a hospital?

Hospitals have areas called wards, a bit like a school has classrooms. Each ward has a different name and deals with something different.

For example, here at Great Ormond Street Hospital there are wards called Sky, Badger and Butterfly.

If you have an appointment, the doctors and nurses will know that you are coming. They will be looking after you when you get there.

If you are in hospital because you have had an accident, you will be taken straight to the accident and emergency ward. They won't know you're coming but they are always ready to care for you.

Care on the ward

Each ward has doctors and nurses working in it. If you come into hospital for the day or overnight, there is likely to be one nurse in charge of looking after you. But don't be afraid to ask a different nurse if you need anything.

Luke, from here at Great Ormond Street Hospital, says: "If you are going into hospital, talk to the people who are taking care of you and ask questions when you need to.

"And remember, you are in safe hands – they are there to hopefully help make you better."

Nurses and doctors

Nurses are there to care for you and make sure you are comfortable. They might do things like prepare you for an operation or give you the medicine that the doctor has prescribed.

Some nurses are specialists or consultants. They might be an expert on something or be able to diagnose illness and decide on treatment.

Doctors

There are lots of different types of doctor, and who you see depends on what is wrong with you. Some specialise in one part of the body. For example, a neurologist knows about the brain and nerves.

Here are some of the other types of doctor you might see:

  • Surgeon – if you go for an operation it could be done by a surgeon.
  • Anaesthetist – they will give you your anaesthetic if you are having an operation (anaesthetic makes you go numb so the operation doesn't hurt, or puts you to sleep – this is called a general anaesthetic).

Preparing for operations

If you are staying in hospital it might be because you are having an operation. Some people get nervous. But remember – people are there to get you ready and make sure it all goes well.

Before an operation you might not be able to eat or drink for a few hours. This is just because the anaesthetic sometimes causes an upset stomach.

Getting ready for surgery

You should get the chance to talk to your anaesthetist before the operation if you are worried about this or want to ask any questions.

The nurse will also be there to help you get ready, change you into a special gown, and take you to the operating theatre.

When you are having an operation, you will be attached to some machines. This is so the doctors and nurses can keep an eye on you and make sure you are okay the whole time you are asleep.

Fun in hospital

If you are visiting hospital overnight, you can still do fun things. Some hospitals have kid's clubs, games rooms, and even schools!

You can also take things with you to play with. If you ever have any questions about what is allowed, just ask the nurse or another member of staff. 

And don't forget – your friends and family can come and visit you in hospital if you're staying for a while.

Other people in hospital

As well as the doctors and nurses there are loads of other hospital people working hard to make sure you are OK.

There are cleaners scrubbing and polishing to get rid of germs, chefs cooking up delicious food and porters moving things all over the hospital so everyone has exactly what they need.

So while you're in hospital there are lots of people there making sure everything is just right to help you and to hopefully make you better!