There are more than 230 public hospitals and health services in NSW. You can search for a hospital or health service in our health services directory.

Getting admitted
Preparing for admission
During your stay

Getting admitted

When you are seriously sick or injured you may be immediately admitted to hospital through an emergency department. This is called an emergency admission. For more information about emergency admission, see Emergency departments.

The other way of being admitted to hospital is when your doctor refers you to a specialist doctor and the specialist recommends you be admitted to hospital. This is known as a booked admission and will not happen immediately.

To arrange a booked admission, your specialist will complete a recommendation for admission form, indicating how urgently your admission is required. Sometimes the specialist will deliver the form to the hospital and sometimes you will be asked to deliver it.

The hospital will enter the details from the form onto a waiting time register. This allows the hospital to arrange waiting times to ensure the sickest patients are treated first. Staff will contact you to let you know approximately how long you may have to wait for your admission. In some cases this will be within days, in other cases within months. Hospital staff will try and give you at least two weeks’ notice of your admission date.

You must give your informed consent before you have a procedure. For suggested questions you could ask, see Questions to ask your doctor or specialist.

Your admission choices

If you have a Medicare card you can generally choose to be treated as a public or a private patient. To help you make an informed admission choice, read Your Stay in Hospital, Your Choices.

If you choose to be admitted as a public patient:

  • you will be treated by doctors nominated by the hospital
  • you will not be charged for hospital accommodation, medical and diagnostic services, prostheses or other relevant services
  • your follow-up care when you leave hospital will usually be provided in an outpatient clinic of the hospital.

If you choose to be admitted as a private patient:

  • you can choose the specialist doctor who will treat you
  • you will be informed prior to making a choice, whether there will be any out-of-pocket expenses for hospital-generated accounts or doctor(s) fees
  • your specialist doctor will usually provide follow-up care in their private room after you leave hospital. As a private patient you may also be eligible to transfer to a private hospital for further treatment or for follow-up care.
  • you will have access to a single room if one is available and you have single room health cover.

For further information on the benefits of choosing to be a private patient read What it Means to be a Private Patient.

Preparing for admission

Planning your hospital stayBefore going to hospital for your surgery, you may attend a pre-admission clinic where staff will provide you with information about the surgery and make plans for after the surgery. 

You may require admission before the day planned for their surgery if your doctor needs to do further tests before the surgery, or to prepare you for surgery.

Day only admission

Day only admission is when you are admitted to hospital, have the surgery and go home on the same day. Day only admission causes less disruption to your normal activities and also reduces the chance of post-operative infections and blood clots.

Day of surgery admission

Day of surgery admission means that you are admitted to hospital and have the surgery on the same day, but you stay in hospital after the operation, at least overnight. 

In all of these cases, your doctor will let you know the arrangements for your admission to hospital.

During your stay

While you are in hospital you may be referred to an allied health professional to assist you in your recovery. Services provided by allied health professionals include physiotherapy, speech pathology, occupational therapy, social work, podiatry, radiology, audiology, nutrition and orthoptics. 

If you have any questions regarding your treatment while you are in hospital, do not hesitate to ask the hospital staff. 

For more information about what you can expect from your time in hospital, see Planning Your Hospital Stay and Patient care, treatment and concerns.

Getting an interpreter

If English is not your first language and you are having difficulty understanding your doctor or any of the other professional staff caring for you, you can request a health care interpreter. For more information, see Health care interpreting and translating services.​​​

Page Updated: Tuesday 24 October 2017
Page Owner: System Purchasing