Your hospital stay | Going into hospital | ƹƵ


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Your hospital stay

A hospital stay can be a difficult time for both you and those close to you. You may be in hospital for planned tests or treatment, or admitted in an emergency. If your treatment is planned, a little preparation can make things easier.

Prioritising your health during strike action

There are strikes taking place in some parts of the health service. However, it’s really important that if you’re unwell or need urgent or emergency medical care that you still contact the NHS for help.

  • For urgent medical care visit or call 111.
  • For emergency care or in life-threatening situations call 999.

Can I choose which hospital I go to?

If you’re referred by your doctor to see a hospital consultant, you can usually choose the hospital you’d prefer to go to and which medical team you’d like to treat you. The NHS e-referral system (previously known as Choose and Book) lets you choose the hospital or clinic you'd like and book your first outpatient appointment.

These questions can help you think about which hospital or medical team to choose:

  • Do you know someone who has been treated there? What did they think?
  • How quickly can you be seen there?
  • How easy is it to get there? Is there adequate and affordable parking?
  • Are the location and visiting times convenient for visitors?

What is a pre-admissions assessment appointment?

With planned treatment, you’ll often be invited for a pre-admissions assessment appointment, either in hospital or over the phone. At this appointment, you’ll be given advice about:

  • whether you should eat or drink on the day of the test or treatment
  • whether you should take your usual medication on the day
  • how long your stay is likely to be
  • how to help your own recovery
  • whether you’ll need someone to stay with you the first night you’re home.

What if I need someone to take me to the hospital?

If your health condition makes public transport or getting in and out of a car difficult, you may be able to get free NHS transport. Talk to your GP who can arrange this for your first hospital appointment. There may also be a local voluntary driver service you can contact.

If you receive certain benefits or are on a low income, you might be eligible for help with costs of travel to the hospital.

You can also make enquiries with charities related to your condition to see if they can help you with travel costs.

Find out more about the services that GPs offer

What should I pack for my hospital stay?

As well as a change of clothes, nightwear and toiletries, remember to pack:

  • your appointment card or admission letter
  • the name and contact details of the doctor who referred you
  • all the medicines you normally take, in their original boxes if possible (if you have a card with details of your treatment, take this too)
  • a notebook and pen to write down any questions you have
  • a mobile phone and charger
  • money for phone calls or items from the hospital shop
  • items to pass the time, such as books or magazines.

Before you go into hospital, it's a good idea to have a bath or shower, wash your hair, cut your nails and put on clean clothes.

It's best not to take valuables such as jewellery into hospital as there aren't always safe places to store them.

How can I organise my home so it’s ready for my return from hospital?

If your hospital stay is planned it’s a good idea to make a few arrangements so that your home is ready for your return. These are some tips:

  • Think about where you'll be spending most of your time when you come out of hospital and put items you use regularly within easy reach – such as your TV remote control, box of tissues or basic painkillers.
  • Stock up on drinks and foods that are easy to prepare and will last until you're home – such as frozen ready meals.
  • Check you have other essential items including basic painkillers for when you return.
  • Ask a friend or relative to stay with you or visit you when you return from hospital.
  • Check your home insurance to see whether the terms change if your home is unoccupied for a certain period of time. It's also a good idea to ask someone you trust to check on your home while you’re away.
  • If you have pets, the have a fostering service for when owners are in hospital.

What happens if I’m admitted to hospital in an emergency?

If you have a fall, a suspected heart attack or a stroke, you may be taken to a hospital A&E department.

The hospital will assess you and decide how best to treat you, taking into account your general health and how it might have contributed to your current situation. Once you’ve been assessed you may be:

  • treated and then allowed to go home if support can be provided at home
  • moved to a Clinical Decisions Unit (CDU) to be monitored or have tests done to help medical staff decide if you need to be admitted to a ward
  • admitted to a ward.

If it turns out you're going to have to stay in hospital for some time and you're concerned about the security of your home, raise this with the staff. They can arrange for someone to make the necessary checks.

If you're admitted to hospital and have agreed to the treatment you need, the staff should be able to give you an estimated date of discharge.

Find out more about what happens when you're discharged from hospital

Will my benefits stop while I’m in hospital?

Your State Pension doesn’t change, no matter how long you’re in hospital. But some payments are suspended if you're in hospital for more than 28 days:

If you transfer from hospital to a care home or community hospital for free short-term support known as intermediate care, this counts towards the 28-day limit.

If you receive Pension Credit, suspension of these benefits can affect the amount of Pension Credit you receive. When you leave hospital, you may be eligible to receive these benefits again. However, if your Pension Credit award stops and you're part of a couple where one of you is under State Pension age, you may not be able to reclaim Pension Credit. 

Contact the office that pays your benefits to let them know when you go into hospital and then again when you leave. You’ll need to quote the number on your award letter for the benefits you receive.

If your stay in hospital is funded entirely by yourself or privately, you should continue to receive these benefits. You should contact the office paying your benefits to let them know.

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Last updated: Jun 24 2024

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