Some illnesses increase the usual risks of surgery and anaesthesia so we may feel it is safer to postpone your child’s procedure until they are well. The majority of planned procedures are non-urgent, so they can be safely postponed.
However, there will be some procedures where the benefits of going ahead outweigh the risks of postponing. The team need to have a full picture of your child’s health before making the decision to continue with the planned procedure or to postpone it.
If you have any questions about whether your child is fit and well enough for the procedure and general anaesthetic, please contact your specialty team as soon as possible.
Coughs and colds
If your child has a cough or cold, a high temperature, streaming nose and/or wheezing cough and they are off their food and sleepy, we will usually postpone their admission until they are well.
However, if they are generally well and eating/drinking as usual and/or the admission is urgent, we will usually carry on with the admission as planned, despite the mild cough or cold.
This includes viruses such as flu, whooping cough or infections such as tuberculosis. We will usually postpone their admission if the chest infection has been confirmed by a clinician (either at GOSH or in your local area).
However, if your child has regular chest infections as part of their medical condition, we may carry on with the admission as planned.
Chicken pox and shingles
Chicken pox is infectious from two days before spots appear until all of them have dried up completely. The chicken pox virus is spread through the air, which means that your child can catch chicken pox by being in the same room as someone with chicken pox or who develops it within the next two days. Shingles is caused by the same virus and is infectious from when the rash appears until it has completely crusted over.
If your child has chicken pox or shingles, or they have been in contact with someone else who has but they haven’t had the chickenpox vaccination, we will usually postpone their admission.
Diarrhoea and/or vomiting
Diarrhoea and/or vomiting are usually caused by a tummy bug, which is extremely infectious while symptoms are present. It can take up to two days for symptoms to develop after coming into contact with someone with a tummy bug.
If your child has diarrhoea and/or vomiting in the two days leading up to the admission or has been in contact with someone showing symptoms, we will usually postpone their admission until they are well. Generally, someone is seen as over diarrhoea and/or vomiting when they have not shown any symptoms for two complete days.
However, if your child has diarrhoea and/or vomiting due to their medical condition rather than a tummy bug, we may carry on the admission as planned.
If your child has a coloured discharge (ooze) from their eye(s) in the days leading up to admission, we will usually postpone the admission until this has cleared. However, if your child’s eye(s) ooze due to their medical condition, we may carry on with the admission as planned.
Hand, foot and mouth disease
This is a common childhood infection that causes blistering of the skin on the hand, feet and around the mouth. This blistering affects how the skin heals and how it protects against infection. Hand, foot and mouth disease is infectious for about seven days after the symptoms first appear and it can take three to six days to develop symptoms after contact with the bug.
If your child has hand, foot and mouth disease, or has been in contact with someone with it in the week up to the admission, we will usually postpone their admission until they are well.
The measles virus is spread through the air, which means that your child can catch measles by being in the same room as someone with measles or who develops the measles rash within the next five days. They are infectious until four days after the rash has appeared.
Measles has been prevented to a degree by the MMR vaccination but outbreaks do occur where vaccination rates are low. If your child has not had both doses of MMR vaccination (or had measles already), they are at risk of developing it if they come into contact with the virus.
If your child has measles, or has been in contact with someone with it, we will usually postpone their admission until they are well or it is clear that they do not have measles after five days have passed since contact.
There are many childhood illnesses and we cannot include them all here. As a general rule, we will usually postpone an admission if your child is taking antibiotics to treat an infection, has a high temperature and/or a wheezy cough.
However, we may carry on with the admission if they are taking antibiotics to prevent infection rather than treat it or the antibiotics have been prescribed by their specialist team at GOSH.