Outpatients

The majority of our patients come to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) as an outpatient. 
  • An outpatient, in most cases, will be referred to the hospital by their family doctor (GP) or local Consultant. Doctors and other health care professionals typically see patients in a clinic room, similar to the ones at your local surgery. 
  • The length of time you will stay in outpatients will depend on who you are seeing and whether any tests or procedures are needed that day. 
  • Once your child has been seen by everyone they need to see, they can go back home.  
  • Some specialities may arrange for a further visit to a ward for treatment. This is known as an 'admission' if staying overnight, or a 'day case' if they go home the same day.
  • Your first appointment with the doctor is called a new appointment and any further appointments are called a follow up appointment.

This section is designed to help you prepare for your child’s outpatient appointment and explain what you can expect to happen during your visit.

When you receive your appointment letter

We will have telephoned you a few weeks previously to discuss your preferred date and time to come to GOSH for your child’s outpatient appointment. We will then confirm this by sending an appointment letter and some forms for you to complete if your child is new to GOSH.

If this date and time becomes inconvenient, please telephone the Appointments Centre as soon as possible so that we can offer it to another child in the queue.

Around 15,000 appointments are wasted each year because families do not turn up at the hospital. If you do have to cancel, we will arrange another appointment as soon as possible.

The day before your child’s appointment

It is dangerous for some of our patients to come into contact with people who could have certain infectious diseases. If you or your child have been in contact with a person with measles, mumps, chicken pox or a tummy bug in the three weeks before the appointment, please telephone us and do not bring them to GOSH. We will then arrange another appointment as soon as possible.

If your child has Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), please ring the department to warn us, as your child will need to be seen in a special isolation room. When you arrive at the hospital, please ask the receptionist to tell the clinic nurse too. Please do not go to the clinic area but wait in the isolation room.

Location of our outpatient clinics

Outpatient clinics run in several locations around GOSH – here’s a little more information about each clinic area.

In Main Outpatient Department at GOSH

In our consulting rooms next door at the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine (RLHIM)

Your appointment letter should give details of the clinic area where the appointment will be held. If you are not sure where to go, please show your appointment letter to a member of staff and ask for directions.

When you arrive at GOSH

If your child’s appointment letter states that your child’s appointment is in Cheetah, Manta Ray or Rhino, please report in at the reception desk within the Outpatient Department at GOSH. This is through the doors to the right of the main reception desk.

If it says that your child’s appointment is in Zebra, Hare or Hippo, please go next door to our consulting rooms at the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine (RLHIM) and check the noticeboard for the location of your child’s clinic. You can then take the lift to the correct floor and report in at the reception desk there. You can also use the stairs through the door in the lift lobby. The receptionist will check that we have the correct details for your child and show you where you need to go for your appointment. They will also explain about your next appointment, if necessary.

The consultation

Your appointment letter will usually give the name of the consultant caring for your child. Our consultants work in teams with other doctors, called registrars or specialist registrars. We cannot guarantee that you will always see the consultant, but we can assure you that the consultant is kept fully informed of the results of appointments and tests.

Multidisciplinary teams of specialists, such as nurses, dietitians, speech and language therapists, physiotherapists and psychologists, run some clinics. You may see a number of different people during your child’s appointment but they should always introduce themselves to you.

Although your clinic appointment is for a set length of time, some appointments overrun, particularly if the doctor has to give a family a difficult diagnosis or explain a complicated treatment. This can have a ‘knock on’ effect on following appointments. The clinic staff will always try to keep you informed about any delays.

Privacy and your child’s wishes

When the clinic nurse calls you and your child to see the doctor, there may be more than one person in the room. As GOSH is a teaching hospital, some of these people may be doctors, nurses and other professionals in training. Your doctor should introduce them to you and explain why they are there.

If you or your child would prefer not to have other people there during the consultation, it would be helpful if you could let us know before the appointment. Asking to be seen alone will not affect your child’s care in any way.

Question time

The doctor will usually start by asking you and your child lots of questions about his or her illness or condition. This information helps the doctor make a diagnosis and plan any treatment. If the doctor wants to examine your child, they will ask your child to lie on a bed that has curtains around it. You will, of course, be able to stay during any examinations. You can also ask for a chaperone of the same sex as your child – please tell us when you check in if you would like a chaperone for any examinations.

When the doctor has finished, you will have the chance to ask him or her any questions. If there is something the doctor explains which you do not understand, please ask him or her to explain it again.

Booking your next appointment

At the end of the consultation, the doctor will tell you if he or she wants to see your child again and if so, approximately when. This is recorded on our computer system. Sometimes your child’s care can be continued at your local hospital, so the doctor will ‘discharge’ them from GOSH.

After the appointment, you should go back to the receptionist to book your child’s next appointment. The receptionist will use the information added to the computer system by the doctor to arrange a suitable date and time with you before you leave the hospital. We will confirm the appointment date/time with a text message or letter.

If you have any questions about making an appointment, please call the Appointments Centre on 020 7829 8880.

Prescriptions for medicines

If the doctor gives you a prescription for medicines, you will need to get them from the hospital pharmacy at GOSH. Please leave your prescription at the Pharmacy before you go for any tests or other appointments. Please tell us if your child has any allergies to food, medicines, preservatives or colourings. Also, if your child prefers to take medicine in a certain format, for instance as liquid or tablets, please discuss this with us when you hand in the prescription.

If you want to know what happens to the prescription and how we dispense medicines, please watch the short film playing in the Dispensary Waiting Area.

The Pharmacy receptionist will give you a number for the prescription – you can then keep an eye on how it is progressing through the dispensary on the screen in the Main Reception Area. We can also send you a short text message to let you know when you can collect the medicines if you prefer – let us know when you hand in the prescription.