Inpatient surgery: frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What if I cannot attend my pre-assessment appointment?

If you have received an appointment in the post and wish to cancel in advance, if you find you are unable to attend on the day of your appointment, or you are running late, please contact the Cherwell Unit.

Can I bring children to the Cherwell Unit?

Yes, but there are no facilities to keep them entertained, so please be mindful of how long your appointment time is scheduled for as they may become bored.

How do I find the Cherwell Unit?

It's on the ground floor of the Brunel Treatment Centre, which is attached by a corridor to the main Great Western Hospital building (please see Floor plans).

Is a parking permit provided?

They are only issued if you are asked to stay at the clinic longer than your intended appointment time (which is shown on your appointment letter).

I have been to the education class before, do I need to attend again?

It depends on what type of surgery you had previously, and the type of surgery you are having now.

If in doubt, please contact the Cherwell Unit  for further advice.

I have already had an operation before, why must I come to pre-assessment?

Each type of surgery requires different pre-operative tests.

Some of these need to be carried out within a certain time before your surgery.

Your general health may also have changed since your last assessment or operation.

What patient facilities are available at the Cherwell Unit?

There is a waiting area with a television for public use within the unit.

Pre-operative education leaflets and information regarding surgery is available for you to look at.

There are toilet facilities in the unit and at the entrance to the Brunel Treatment Centre.

In the Brunel Treatment Centre Reception there is a cafe and vending machines.

Within the unit we have a drinking water dispenser.

What will I need to bring to my pre-assessment appointment?

Please bring your completed questionnaire that accompanied your appointment letter and any medications that you are currently taking, both prescription and over-the-counter.

Do I need to bring my medication?

Yes please - this will allows the nurse to document accurately what medication you are currently prescribed or taking.

You will need to have a supply of your regular medications and painkillers, for example paracetamol, ready at home for when you leave hospital after your operation.

If you require prescribed painkillers these will be issued to you on discharge and you will be given advice about how to take them.

Why do I have to have tests?

You will need specific tests related to the specific type of surgery that you will be having.

These may include:

Some of these tests will determine whether you are fit to have your surgery.

For some procedures further blood tests are required a few days before your planned operation.

The nurse will explain the procedure to you following your assessment.

Will I need an X-ray?

If you are waiting to have an orthopaedic operation you may be required to have an X-ray.

This will depend on when your last X-ray was or if anything has changed significantly in your condition since then.

Will I need to complete any forms when I arrive at pre-assessment?

This depends on what surgery you are having.

You may be required to complete additional forms or assessment forms related to your surgery.

The receptionist or nurse will provide you with the forms, clipboard and pen and any necessary assistance.

What is the consent form for? Will I receive a copy?

All patients need to complete a consent form with a doctor before their operation.

Your consent may be gained at your pre-assessment appointment in the Cherwell Unit or you may be asked to return to the hospital for a consent-only clinic.

You will receive an appointment for this clinic separately.

Alternatively, you may complete the consent with the doctor on the day of your operation but this will depend on which surgeon is performing your operation and the type of procedure.

The consent form is duplicated and you will keep the second (pink) copy for yourself.

For orthopaedic procedures, you will be given the opportunity to read an example copy of the consent form before you see a doctor.

What is the National Joint Registry (NJR)?

The NJR records details of hip, knee and ankle replacement operations performed in England and Wales.

The data collected is used for medical research and for monitoring the performance of different types of joint implants.

All personal information is confidential and you can withdraw your consent at any time.

If you are having a hip, knee or ankle replacement, you will be given a consent form at your pre-assessment appointment requesting that you either consent or do not consent to having your details recorded within the NJR.

For full details please see the National Joint Registry website (www.njrcentre.org.uk)

What are PROMS (Patient reported outcome measures) forms?

All NHS patients wherever they are treated who are undergoing hip/knee replacement, varicose vein or groin hernia surgery are being invited to fill in the PROMS questionnaires.

More information will be available at your appointment.

All personal details will be confidential and will only be used for the purpose of helping the NHS improve outcomes.

For full details please see NHS Choices > PROMS.

Who will I see at pre-assessment?

You will see a nurse and a nursing auxiliary or healthcare assistant.

Who else you see will depend on what operation you are having.

If you are having an orthopaedic operation you may need to see a consultant to complete the consent form for your surgery.

An occupational therapist may speak to you regarding your furniture at home - depending on the type of orthopaedic surgery you are having.

Will I see a doctor at pre-assessment?

This will depend on what operation you are having.

You may see a consultant at this appointment or at a separate consent clinic or you may not need to see a doctor.

You may be asked to stay or return to see an anaesthetist depending on your medical history and the nursing assessment.

How long does pre-assessment take?

If you are having an orthopaedic operation pre-assessment may take four to six hours.

If you are having a general surgical operation your appointment will take up to two hours.

I have had pre-assessment, when will I have my operation?

You may already have a date for your surgery when you attend pre-assessment or you will be given one by the Bookings Team once you are deemed fit for surgery and an appropriate theatre slot is allocated to you.

Your operation should be undertaken within 18 weeks of being put on the waiting list but each type of surgery may have a different waiting time depending on speciality and urgency of the procedure.

What if I cannot have my operation within six weeks of pre-assessment?

If you are having an orthopaedic operation you will need to return for repeat MRSA swabs as the results are only valid for eight weeks.

If there are periods when you are unable to attend for surgery please either let the nurse or the Bookings Team know.

Who do I tell if I don't want surgery anymore?

You would need to inform either the Bookings Team or your consultant's secretary.

What happens if I have high blood pressure?

It is not unusual for your blood pressure to be raised when you attend the clinic.

We will test it twice if it is raised and if it remains raised we will ask you to attend your GP surgery for a re-check prior to your surgery.

Your blood pressure will need to be suitably controlled prior to an anaesthetic.

What if my tests taken come back abnormal?

We will get them reviewed by an anaesthetist or nurse; if any further tests or investigations are needed we will contact you to let you know.

If you are deemed unfit for your surgery for a period of more than two weeks following your pre-assessment you will be temporarily removed from the waiting list and then reinstated when you are deemed fit.

This is in line with government guidelines for waiting lists.

Will I have to return to the Cherwell Unit for anything?

You may need to return for further tests, swabs or investigations, or to see a doctor for consent or an anaesthetist for an assessment.

Whether you need to return for tests or a further assessment will be determined by the length of time passed and the procedure being undertaken.

Why do I need to see an anaesthetist?

The pre-assessment nurse may decide that you need to see an anaesthetist for assessment.

This decision is based on the type of surgery you are having and your medical history.

What is CPET? How long does this take?

Cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) is a test carried out in the Cherwell Unit.

It involves cycling on a static exercise bike while your heart and lungs are monitored.

The test usually takes about one hour.

Will I need to see a specialist nurse?

This depends on the type of surgery you are having.

Wherever possible this will be arranged for you while you are at the pre-assessment clinic.

I've heard about bone donation. What is this?

If you are having a total hip replacement you may be able to donate the head of the femur (leg bone) removed during the operation.

This can be used to help other patients who need hip surgery.

You will be assessed and if you are deemed suitable you will be asked if you would like to donate your bone.

What medications should I stop before I have my operation?

You will be advised which medications you need to stop when you attend your appointment by your pre-assessment nurse.

They will give you this advice in writing to take home with you.

Will I need to wear a pair of anti-embolic stockings while I'm in hospital?

It depends on the type of surgery you will be having.

Your pre-assessment nurse will be able to advise whether you will need to wear them or not.

Each patient will be individually assessed for risk of blood clots, and the risk will determine what treatment you will receive, both in hospital and on discharge.

What is the Theatre Admissions Lounge (TAL) and where is it?

If you are having an orthopaedic operation you will need to go to the TAL on the day of your operation.

It's located within the Theatres Department on the first floor of the main Great Western Hospital building (please see Floor plans).

You will go from this lounge to the theatre and then to the ward following the operation.

What is MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)?

MRSA is a 'bug' that is resistant to many antibiotics.

Some people are carriers of MRSA and it does not always affect them.

If you're coming to hospital for an operation you will be tested for MRSA and if found to be positive you may need to be treated prior to your surgery, or you may have your surgery postponed until the MRSA is clear.

Please see NHS Choices > MRSA for full details.

I need transport to come into hospital, who will organise this for me?

If you are eligible for hospital transport the Bookings Officer will be able to organise this for you.

Contacts details are on your pre-assessment appointment letter.

Who should I contact if I have feedback regarding my experience?

We are always keen to receive feedback - positive or negative - and would welcome your views on how to improve our service.

Please contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS).

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