Woodpecker Same Day Admission Unit

Woodpecker is the same day admission unit (SDAU). Patients come here before having an operation or procedure under anaesthetic.

Woodpecker Same Day Admission Unit has 13 cubicles, a luggage store room and a play room. There are patient bedside entertainment units in each cubicle and there are lots of toys and games for children to play with while they are waiting for their operation or procedure.


Woodpecker Nurses’ station telephone number: 020 7405 9200, ext 0354/ 0355/0356/0672 

If your child has any additional needs, please call in advance to let us know.

Who you will meet

Woodpecker is mainly run by our team of nurses and health care assistants, who work closely with the doctors to help prepare for your child for their operation or procedure. Other staff who work on the ward include a play specialist, play worker and ward administrator.

The team on Woodpecker are part of the Theatre team at GOSH and work closely together to ensure theatre lists run efficiently, as well as making sure your child’s admission is completed as quickly and smoothly as possible. 

The following members of staff will be available to help you during your stay on the ward:

  • Matron: Claire Waller
  • Ward Manager: Philomena Cosgrove


Children come to Woodpecker before an operation or procedure under anaesthetic and are then taken to our operating theatres or procedure areas. Afterwards, they will spend some time in our recovery area before being transferred to their post-operative ward.

Most of the children and young people coming to Woodpecker are being treated by the following specialties – information about specific conditions they treat is available on their specialty pages.

Ward Information

When you receive your admission letter

If you live outside the M25, you may be able to stay in the Patient Hotel at GOSH the night before admission. If your child is staying overnight after their procedure, we can only accommodate one parent staying overnight with them. If you have any other queries about your child’s admission, please contact the admissions manager. 

Space both on Woodpecker and on our post-operative wards is limited so please do not bring too much with you. We would like you to bring:

  • Any prescription medication your child takes
  • Any emergency equipment you usually carry with you, such as suction or BiPAP
  • Only if your child is on special feeds, an unopened container to use until the Diet Kitchen can make up the feeds
  • Spare clothes, night clothes, nappies (if applicable) and a wash kit for you and your child 
  • Any favourite toys, comforters, blankets, cups or bottles

The evening before your child is due to come to Woodpecker, we will call you between 3.30pm and 6pm to check that your child is well enough to be admitted and identify any special requirements, such as feeds or equipment. We will also explain about admission and fasting times during this call. 

If you are not at home or contactable by mobile phone, please telephone Woodpecker between 4pm and 6pm. Please do not ring before 4pm as we will not have the information we need to tell you admission and fasting times before then. If your child is due to be admitted on a Monday, we will call you on Friday evening.

Fasting and other preparation

It is important that your child does not eat or drink anything for a few hours before the sedation or anaesthetic. This is called ‘fasting’. Fasting reduces the risk of stomach contents entering the lungs during and after the procedure, which can cause severe and long term lung damage. 

We strongly encourage you to give your child food and drink right up to these times, waking them during the night if necessary, to minimise the time for which they have to fast. However after the fasting times given, your child should have nothing at all to eat or drink. You should follow these instructions exactly. Otherwise, their admission may be delayed or even cancelled. If your child requires medication after their fasting times, please tell us when we telephone.

Please make sure that your child has a bath, shower or thorough wash the evening before admission. Your child should not be wearing any nail varnish. Please leave jewellery at home for safe keeping.

Admission day

Unfortunately, only two adults will be allowed to come into the anaesthetic and recovery room with your child. If you cannot arrange child care, one adult will have to supervise your other children at all times.

We will ask you to bring in your child at a specific time – this is to ensure that we have a cubicle ready and that we have enough time for the team to fully admit your child before their procedure. Please note that the admission time is not the time that your child will be having their procedure and staff will be unable to give you an exact time until the list order has been confirmed. Once the list order has been confirmed, staff will be able to give you an estimated time for their procedure.

When you arrive on Woodpecker, your child will be weighed and measured. Once this has been completed, we will show you to their bed space where you and your child can wait until their procedure. A named nurse or health care assistant will take a baseline set of observations. This will usually include measuring their heart rate, temperature and pulse. If your daughter is 12 years old or more, they will ask her to provide a fresh urine sample for pregnancy testing. If you want to know more about why we do this routinely, please ask for a copy of our information sheet. The nurse or health care assistant will then complete the admission paperwork with you and your child will also be seen by a surgical doctor and anaesthetist.

After this, your child can go to our play room until the time for their procedure or can stay in the bed space. You can borrow toys from the play room if your child wants to stay in the bed space. We also have DVD players and games consoles. On Woodpecker, we actively encourage children to play as this helps reduce anxiety about the procedure and also distracts them from feeling hungry. Our play team can entertain children while they wait or suggest toys or activities.

We do not allow eating or drinking on Woodpecker as it is unfair to children who are fasting before their anaesthetic. If you require food or drink, please tell a member of staff who can direct you to the Lagoon Restaurant. When we have received a call to say they are ready, your child will be taken from Woodpecker to the operating theatre or department where their procedure is taking place. Parents are welcome to accompany their child but will have to leave as soon as the anaesthetic has taken effect. You can leave the hospital while your child is having their procedure but please make sure that we have your correct mobile phone number so we can contact you if needed.

After their operation or investigation, your child will be taken to the recovery area in the operating theatre to start waking up. Your child will then be transferred to their postoperative ward to recover. The ward nurses will explain what care your child will need and when they are likely to be ready to go home or be transferred to another hospital.

Privacy and dignity

We will allocate a bed space to your child according to how their psychological and social needs are best met when balanced with their clinical needs. Single cubicles tend to be allocated to children who either have an infection or need to be protected from infection. 

As part of our progress towards protecting your child’s dignity, we have introduced a new type of theatre gown. This provides unrestricted access for our nurses and doctors while keeping your child covered up and comfortable at all times.

Security and fire

For security reasons, the doors to Woodpecker are kept locked. Please ring the bell and when asked, state who you are and the name of your child. 

All members of staff must wear an identity badge at all times. If someone not wearing an identity badge approaches you or your child at any time, please check with a member of staff. If you are at all worried, please call security on extension 5999.

Our security guards are on duty in the hospital 24 hours a day, seven days week. They are here to protect all our staff, patients and visitors and do regular patrols for all the buildings. Remember if you see anything out of the ordinary, ask a member of staff to contact security. Try not to bring valuable items to the hospital, as we cannot accept responsibility for the loss of or damage to any personal belongings.

All parts of the hospital site are protected by a very sensitive fire alarm system. If you are on the ward when the fire alarm sounds continuously, please remain calm and follow the instructions from the nurse in charge. If you are elsewhere in the hospital, please remain where you are and follow the instructions from a member of staff. Do not return to the ward until the area is declared safe by the hospital fire team.

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on GOSH property, which includes inside any of the buildings or areas nearby including entrances. Please do not smoke in our main entrance or near hospital buildings, as we will ask you to move elsewhere.

Please be considerate when using your mobile phone, switching it off during consultations and keeping it on silent when in a clinical area.

We will not tolerate any kind of inappropriate or threatening behaviour – verbal, physical or psychological – and we have a policy to ensure that this is dealt with appropriately. We can and will remove people from GOSH in these circumstances.

Visiting a patient at GOSH

We know that having visitors can make things seem more ‘normal’ for our patients. However, we have to have a balance between people visiting and our staff being able to care for our patients. 

Children and young people coming to Woodpecker only stay in this area before their operation or procedure so visiting is not encouraged. We allow a maximum of two adults to attend with each child.

Brother, sisters and other children should not be brought to GOSH so please make alternative arrangements for their care. If you cannot arrange child care, one adult will have to supervise your other children at all times. The only exception to this is breastfeeding babies. Additional adults may be asked to wait elsewhere in the hospital rather than on Woodpecker.

If there are specific reasons why additional adults or brothers and sisters need to attend, please discuss this with the admissions manager who will seek approval from the ward manager.

If you have any questions about visiting, please telephone the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (Pals) Office before you visit on 020 7829 7862.

Infection control

Please do not come to GOSH if you have a cold, cough or an upset stomach, or think you have recently been in contact with someone who has. You should wait until you have not had any symptoms for 48 hours before you visit. Other infectious diseases including chicken pox and measles could be particularly dangerous for some of our patients so please do not visit if you have been in contact with them recently.

If you are a parent staying with your child and you become unwell during their stay we will ask you to leave the ward to go home to get better.

When you come onto Woodpecker, please use the alcohol gel provided just inside the ward door. When you leave the patient, please wash your hands again and use alcohol gel. Every member of staff is reminded to wash their hands before visiting a child, so please ask us.


You are a valued member of your child‘s healthcare team and we encourage you to take part in his or her care as much as possible while in hospital.

Meals are not provided for parents, but food and drink can be bought from various places within the hospital and local area. You may want to bring in your own snacks and drinks but please do not sit in the ‘no food and drink’ zones within the ward for children and young people fasting before surgery. 

Woodpecker also has a play room supervised by our play specialist during office hours but you will be responsible for your child at other times.

For mothers who wish to breastfeed, we provide a dedicated room. We also provide the equipment to 'express' breast milk so your child can be fed through a nasogastric tube, if necessary.