The day of surgery

Most people come in to hospital on the day of surgery to “Ambulatory Theatre”. Arrival time is normally 07:00 –  07.30am, but you will be clearly told what time to arrive. You can bring 1 person with you, we don’t have space for more than 1 (Please see COVID -19 guidelines for current restrictions on visitors/accompanying persons). If you feel unwell when you are due to come into hospital, please call the Ambulatory Theatre.

How to get here Parking instructions


Eating and drinking

For arrival time 7:30 am

  • You can eat until 3am, then do not eat any more food. You should not have food for 6 hours before surgery.
  • You can drink clear fluid until 7 am. This includes tea or coffee (without milk!), you can have sugar in your tea or coffee.
  • Please drink a large glass of tap water at 06:30 am. Take your usual tablets unless you have been told not to. Do not eat or drink anything else after 7am.  The ward staff will advise you if you can drink water until 2 hours before surgery.
  • Please do not have sweets or chewing gum after 3am.

Why? If there is food or liquid in your stomach during your anaesthetic, you could vomit and damage your lungs.

If you take medicines, you should take them as usual unless you have been told not to. If you take drugs to thin the blood or drugs for diabetes, you will be given instructions about stopping these in the pre op assessment clinic.
Admission process
You will meet with your anaesthetist; they will discuss your health and your anaesthetic. You will meet with your surgeon; they will check you understand your operation and check your consent form is complete. Feel free to ask any questions. Your surgeon will need to draw an arrow on your skin to mark the correct side for the operation.

The nurses will complete paper work with you including contact details for friends and family. They will fit tight stockings, a wristband and give you a gown to wear. The stockings reduce the risk of blood clots in the leg. Once you have been admitted you will be asked to change into your gown. You will need to wear a wristband all the time you are in hospital for your safety. This will be checked when you go to theatre and when you are given medication. If you have an allergy the wristband will be red. Your property will be safely stored until after your operation has taken place. We encourage a friend or relative to take your valuables and extra luggage until visiting time.

What time will my operation be?
Admission lounge staff will admit and prepare you for theatre in order of the operating list. The ward you will stay on after surgery will be known later in the morning. The first person goes to theatre between 8:45 and 9:00am, the timings for people who are next on the list is variable. This depends on many things such as time for going to sleep and waking up, surgery time, staffing and ward beds being free. You may have to wait several hours. We will let you know more precise times as soon as possible. A member of the theatre team will come to collect you when they are ready for you.

Going to theatre
A member of staff will collect you and go to theatre with you. A relative or friend can stay with you until the theatre reception area.

You can wear glasses, hearing aids and dentures until you are in the anaesthetic room. Jewellery and piercings should be removed. If you cannot remove your jewellery, it needs to be covered with tape to prevent damage to it or to your skin.

Theatre staff will check your wristband, your name and date of birth, and safety questions. Please do not be surprised when they ask you what operation you are having, this is a safety check.

The anaesthetist will attach machines that measure your heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels. All patients are given extra oxygen to breathe through a mask. A cannula is put into the back of your hand so injections can be given into the vein. The anaesthetic is started with an injection, you won’t feel or remember anything after this. The next steps will vary depending on which operation you are having.

We do safety checks multiple times throughout surgery, these are part of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Surgical Safety Checklist. Surgeons around the world use the checklist and this has saved many lives.

In the recovery room
After surgery most people wake up in the recovery room. This is a special area where you have your own trained nurse or technician to look after you while you wake up. You will be given oxygen to breathe through a mask. You will have a drip and one or more tubes in your side (chest drains), attached to drainage bottles. For certain operations a catheter in the bladder is necessary, we try to avoid these unless really necessary.

Most operations cause some discomfort afterwards. The anaesthetist gives you pain killers whilst you are asleep. If you are in pain when you wake up tell your nurse, and they can give extra pain relief. The anaesthetist may visit to make sure your pain is controlled.