What will happen?

You should have been told the details of your treatment or the procedure you’ll be having. If the admission is planned, you should receive an admission letter with details including the date and time of your appointment, where to go on the day, and whether you can eat or drink before your appointment. Make sure you’ve read and understood the letter. Contact the hospital if there’s anything you’re unsure about and let them know if you have any special needs or require a translator.

You may also be asked to attend a pre-operative assessment with a doctor or nurse before your admission. This is a good time to ask any questions. If you have any other questions, make a note of these so you can ask staff when you arrive.

If you need help getting to the hospital, speak to your GP or the healthcare professional who referred you to hospital to find out what transport might be available from the hospital or local charities.

What should I take with me?

You might find it useful to make a checklist of things to take with you. Here are a few suggestions:

  • your appointment letter
  • your medication
  • glasses or contact lenses. It’s a good idea to wear glasses on a chain around your neck to prevent them being mislaid.
  • your hearing aid and spare batteries
  • small change
  • a mobile phone and charger, or a list of useful phone numbers
  • something to keep you occupied, like a book, or music player with headphones
  • pyjamas or nightdresses and a dressing gown
  • spare underwear
  • close-fitting slippers or comfortable non-slip footwear
  • toiletries
  • shaving equipment
  • a small mirror
  • a comb or hairbrush.

What happens to my benefits when I’m in hospital?

If you’re receiving any benefits, contact whichever office pays your benefits to tell them when you’re admitted to hospital and then again to tell them when you leave. This is because some benefits stop being paid after a while if you’re admitted to an NHS hospital. Your State Pension won’t be affected.

Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance stop after you’ve been in hospital for 28 days. If someone gets Carer’s Allowance for looking after you, this will also stop after you’ve been in hospital for 28 days so your carer should also make sure they contact the relevant benefits office. Your benefits will restart when you return home.

If you're a carer

Contact your council’s adult social services department if the person you’re caring for will need respite care while you’re in hospital and recovering afterwards. Ask for a care needs assessment for them if they haven’t already had one. Let the council know if the situation is urgent. They may arrange a temporary care package for the person you care for until a full assessment can be arranged.

If the person you care for already receives help from the council, emergency plans should be included in their care and support plan.

Asking for help while you’re in hospital

Once you’re in hospital, you should be able to ask staff questions about your treatment and raise any concerns with them. You should be told who your consultant is and who your named nurse is. The staff on the ward may seem busy, but you should be able to ask for help if you need it.

If you don’t think you’re getting the answers you need, you can speak to the hospital’s Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS).

If you find it difficult to ask questions or understand information and you don’t have a relative or friend to support you, you may be able to get help from an independent advocate. For more information, see our factsheet Independent Advocacy.

When you leave hospital

There are certain procedures the hospital staff should follow when discharging you. For more information, see Leaving hospital.

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