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doctor and patient in TAU

This page explains what you need to do when coming to the Theatre Admissions Unit and answers some common questions.

Further information about anaesthetics, including last eating and drinking times, is available on the Anaesthesia page.

If you have any further concerns or queries, please call TAU on 0114 271 7343 / 0114 271 7393.

Questions about coming for surgery during coronavirus pandemic

How will you be keeping my child safe from COVID-19?
Nothing is more important to us than the safety of your child and we have made extensive changes to the way we work to keep everyone who comes to us as safe as possible.

This includes additional cleaning, screening and testing patients before admission, social distancing and the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). We are also limiting the number of visitors to children, and any staff who are unwell remain home until they have been confirmed not to have COVID-19.

A very small number of patients with COVID-19 infection have been treated at Sheffield Children’s. They are cared for in a separate ward area within the hospital and any procedures are carried out in a dedicated theatre.

Can we just wait until things are back to normal?
Unfortunately, these new processes are likely to be in place for some time and you may have a long wait.

While we appreciate the inconvenience the extra steps place on your family, your child has been identified as a priority for surgery, and an extended delay is not recommended.

Can we skip the test?
If your child has not had the test, unfortunately they will not be able to go ahead with their procedure. This is for the protection of your child, other children and our staff and is in line with national guidance.
What does the test involve?
All children being admitted to the hospital will have COVID-19 nose swabs performed two or three days before a planned admission.

We will telephone to arrange a date for your child to be tested in our drive through testing hub on the hospital site or in clinic if other tests are required.

If you do not have a household car please inform a member of our team and we will make arrangements with you, do not use public transport or taxis to attend.

What are the screening questions?
Before your procedure, you will be asked a series of questions.

  1. Has your child had temperature of more than 37.8 C, within last 7 days?
  2. Has your child had a new-onset of a cough or breathlessness, within the last 7 days?
  3. Has your child had any loss of smell or taste in the last 7 days?
  4. Has your child had any contact with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 positive patient in the last 14 days?
  5. Has anyone in the household suffered from COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, a loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste and/or been self-isolating in the last 14 days?
Why can only one carer attend?
To minimise the risk of infection, and to support social distancing, unfortunately we need to limit the number of people on the hospital site. Only one parent or carer can attend with each child.
Should I wear a mask and gloves?
You should wear a face covering to attend the hospital. If you wear gloves to travel to the hospital, please take them off on arrival and wash your hands.
What should I do if my child or a member of the family gets sick before the appointment?
If someone in your household becomes ill, please contact us as soon as possible. We will assess the situation and make a decision based on your symptoms, how long it is before your surgery and your individual circumstances. You can contact us on 0114 271 7343 / 0114 271 7393
How can I entertain my child during shielding?
We appreciate staying at home is difficult for children, especially so soon after an extended period of lockdown. To help we’ve created a 14 day activity pack in partnership with our charity, The Children’s Hospital Charity. You can download it here.

Free app to help prepare
Download the Little Journey app to help you and your child to prepare for their surgery. Explore interactive photos, watch videos to explain what will happen, and use checklists to help everyone be ready for the day. Available free on iOS and Android

Preparing for your visit

  • Your appointment letter details the time and date you’ll need to come to hospital.
  • If you can’t attend, please let us know by telephoning the number on your appointment letter. We can then rearrange your appointment and your original date can be given to someone else.
  • If you need an interpreter we can arrange this for you – just call the number on your appointment letter.
  • If your child is particularly anxious about coming to hospital, it may be possible to arrange a pre-admission visit to help familiarise them with TAU. Please contact our Play Specialist Lisa on 0114 271 7343 / 0114 271 7393 for further information or to arrange a visit.
  • The photo guide Having an operation at Sheffield Children’s Hospital (PDF) was produced by our Play Specialists and should be useful for patients, parents and carers coming to our surgical inpatient wards.
  • Read our advice on how to prepare your child for their anaesthetic.

What to bring

  • Your appointment letter
  • Any medication your child takes
  • Personal Child Health Record
  • ‘Born in Sheffield’ book
  • Books, comics or toys – your child’s favourite toy/comforter is important
  • Please try not to bring valuables. The Trust cannot accept any liability for loss or damage of valuables.

On the day

  • You can find TAU in the Green Wing. Follow the corridor past Theatre Reception and use the lift or stairs to access D Floor. Look out for the orange squares on the corridor walls.
  • Admission times are usually 7.30am for morning lists and between 11am and 12 noon for afternoon lists. It is important to arrive on time. Theatre lists generally commence at 9am and 1.30pm although a few morning lists start at 8.30am.
  • For most operations and procedures it is important that children do not eat or have certain drinks for several hours beforehand. We have standard times at which children may have their last food and drink as we may not be able to determine the order of the operating list until the day. Eating or drinking too late is the most common reason for operations being cancelled so it is important that you stick to the following rules:

Infants up to 12 months of age

 Solid food
(if weaned)
Formula feedBreast milkClear fluids
Morning list
7.30am admission
Fast from 2.30amPlease feed at 5am then fast until theatrePlease feed at 6am then fast until theatreEncourage drinks until arrival at the Theatre Admissions Unit
Afternoon list
11am-12noon admission
Fast from 7.30amPlease feed at 9.30am then fast until theatrePlease feed at 10.30am then fast until theatreEncourage drinks until arrival at the Theatre Admissions Unit

Older children (over 12 months)

 Food, milk, formula, sweets, fizzy drinksBreast milkClear fluids
Morning list
7.30am admission
Fast from 2.30amPlease feed at 6am then fast until theatreEncourage drinks until arrival at the Theatre Admissions Unit
Afternoon list
11am-12noon admission
Fast from 7.30amPlease feed at 10.30am then fast until theatreEncourage drinks until arrival at the Theatre Admissions Unit
  • Please bring your child’s water bottle or sippy cup with you for use on the ward.
  • One or two parents/carers can come to the appointment. Unfortunately we can’t accommodate any siblings other than breastfeeding babies.
  • Allow plenty of time to get here and remember that parking is very limited. Public transport is the best way to travel to the hospital.
  • Once you get here you will usually be given an approximate waiting time but please bear in mind that this can change if an emergency operation is taking place or if an earlier case takes longer than expected.
  • Depending on the procedure you may be with us for between four and eight hours. We need everyone on an operating list to arrive at the same time so that the surgeon and anaesthetist can assess every child before the list starts.


  • A doctor who is part of the team looking after your child will explain the procedure to you.
  • You can ask any questions and will be asked to sign to say that you understand and consent to what is going to happen.
  • Consent can only be given by a parent or guardian. Unfortunately other relatives cannot give consent.
  • If your child is old enough to understand what is happening then they can sign next to your signature.

After the procedure

  • Your child will recover from their anaesthetic in the theatres area before being brought back to TAU for second stage recovery and discharge. (Patients who require inpatient care will go straight to a ward).
  • We will give you written advice on follow up appointments, wound care and medication.
  • Very occasionally, children take longer to recover or doctors wish to observe them overnight. If this happens we will arrange for you and your child to transfer to an overnight ward. You can choose to stay by your child’s bedside if this happens.
  • If any problems occur once you are at home, please contact your GP or take your child to the nearest Accident & Emergency Department.

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July 2021: To protect our patients we are restricting visitors to one person per patient at Sheffield Children’s at all sites. Please help us to keep everyone safe.See more NHS guidance about COVID-19

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