Child inpatients

Children and young people stay at Queen Mary's Hospital for Children, our dedicated children's hospital located at on St Helier Hospital site, and on the Casey ward at Epsom Hospital.

We will do everything we can to make your child's stay as comfortable as possible, and offer services such as play specialists to help prepare your child for hospital admission, treatment and procedures.

Visiting hospital can be a daunting experience for children and their parents. Here you can find information about what to bring with you, preparing your child for a hospital stay, your child's treatment, and what happens when it's time to go home.

Going home

The staff looking after your child will help you plan for when they are ready to leave hospital.  

The length of time people need to stay varies, although the staff will give you some idea of how long you should expect your child to be in hospital.

The staff may need to ask you about your home; for example, how many stairs you have and whether your child has help or support from social services or community health professionals. The aim is to make sure you have all the services you need before you leave hospital.

Your child may be referred to a community care team, responsible for providing ongoing care at home.

Before you leave

Before you leave, please make sure you have been told and understand:

  • What to expect when you are home
  • What to watch out for
  • Who to call if you have concerns.

You will also need to know:

  • What medicines your child is taking
  • How and when to get a repeat prescription
  • What help you can expect from your local GP, health visitor or paediatric nurse.

Before admission

When you receive your child's admissions letter, you should call us if:

  • You cannot make the date
  • You or your child have any special needs, such as washing or praying facilities
  • You would like an interpreter or signer during your child's stay.

What to bring with you:

  • Your child's admission letter and any other information relating to treatment
  • The name, address, postcode and phone number of yourGP
  • Their child health record (red book)
  • A small amount of money for a newspaper or the payphone
  • Proof of entitlement to benefits (if appropriate)
  • All medicines that your child is taking including prescription and alternative medicines
  • Day and night clothes
  • Toiletries
  • Nappies, if your child uses them
  • Books
  • Your child's favourite toy or comforter, labelled with their name
  • Any mobility aids that your child needs
  • Items of religious importance to you and your child.

The day before admission

Please call the number on the letter to confirm a bed is available, as, occasionally, an emergency admission needs to be given priority.

If your child is having a test or operation there may be instructions about when your child needs to stop eating or drinking. Please follow these instructions, as failure to do so might result in delaying or cancelling your child's treatment.

If your child becomes unwell

Please call us within three days before admission if you think your child has been exposed to an infection such as chicken pox, or is suffering from a cough, cold, vomiting or diarrhoea.


Preparing your child

It can be helpful to explain to your child what he or she can expect in hospital.

  • Be clear, honest and use simple words
  • Tell your child as much as you can about what will happen
  • Answer any questions truthfully.

When to tell your child

This will depend on your child's age:

  • Toddlers may not understand time. Tell them at least a couple of days before coming in.
  • Pre-school age - tell them at least a week before as they may enjoy hospital play.
  • Older children - give them as much time as possible. They may need time to think things through and want to ask questions.

Reassuring your child

Preparing for hospital together can help reassure children, for example packing the hospital bag and reading books together. Hospital play and drawing pictures together can help.

More information

For more advice, contact Action for Sick Children on 020 7483 6444 or visit the Action for Sick Children website for more information.


Your child's stay

Your child’s admission letter tells you where to go when you arrive at the hospital. Please follow the signs and symbols in the hospital to find where you need to go. 

When you arrive:

  • Give all your child's medicines to the nurse
  • Tell the nurse if your child has any allergies or side effects to any medicine.

Your child may be seen by the consultant or another doctor. A consultant will monitor your child's care throughout their stay. 

Staying with your child in hospital

One parent/carer can stay with your child at any time. We can put up a folding beds next to your child's bed or a parents' room may be available.

If you can't stay

Lots of parents have to work or have responsibilities at home that mean they can't stay with their child in hospital. You can call your child direct, and your child's nurse can help him/her to phone you so that you can keep in touch.

Storing personal possessions

There is a bedside cupboard for your personal possessions. There is no lock and we do not recommend using it for valuable items.

As storage space is limited, please do not bring bulky objects as this can clutter the ward areas.


We welcome visitors and the involvement of carers. It can also relieve the pressure on you if family and friends visit or stay with your child.

Visitors are limited to two at a time, in addition to parents. Siblings and other children need to be supervised at all times.

You can visit your child at any time, but other visitors should check the visiting hours with ward staff. This is to make sure your child gets enough rest.

More information for visitors

Ordering meals

Your child will be served a meal three times a day. They will be able to choose their breakfast from a trolley, and their lunch and supper from a menu.

Please tell the nurse or housekeeper about any special dietary requirements.

Making phone calls

You can use the bedside telephone for a fee. There are also pay phones in most ward areas.

Mobile telephones should not be used in certain areas, so please check with staff before you use your phone.

Writing to children in hosptial

Family and friends are welcome to write to your child in hospital. Please ask them to write the letter or card with your child's full name and the name of the ward. Address details can be found in our ward directory.


Smoking is not permitted in any hospital building or in any of the surrounding areas. We ask all patients and visitors to go off site to smoke.

More information

More information for inpatients

Infection control and prevention

Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

Your child's treatment

The care team

A team of people will be involved in your child's care, such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists, play specialists, therapists and radiographers. All staff wear an identity badge with their name, job title and the trust logo. All our staff should introduce themselves by name.

Each ward has a senior sister and wards are managed by a senior nurse manager.

Play specialists

Play specialists are available in each ward area and work with children of all ages. They can help prepare your child for hospital admission, treatment and procedures. If you would like to arrange for your child to meet with the play specialist before coming to hospital, please phone the ward. You can find out more about the types of play we offer by visiting our dedicated webpage: Play in Hospital.

Consenting to treatment

We want to make sure that you fully understand your child's condition and the options available to you and your child. Before your child receives any treatment, the doctors and nurses will explain what they are recommending and will answer any questions you have.

If your child is under 16, you will be asked to sign a consent form.

If you have any questions please contact the senior nurse who will be happy to discuss any aspect of your child's treatment with you.


Everyone working in the NHS has a legal duty to keep any information about your child confidential. Please speak to your child's doctor if you would like to see your child's patient information records.


This is a teaching hospital and students may be involved in your child's care; this will not affect the quality of your child's treatment. Students will be supervised by qualified staff at all times.

Please tell the doctor or nurse in charge if you do not want students to be present.


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