There are more than 230 public hospitals and health services in New South Wales. You can search for a hospital in our Health Services Directory. Hospitals and Emergency Department locations and contact details can also be found in the front section of the White Pages telephone directory.
When you are seriously sick or injured you may be immediately admitted into hospital through an Emergency Department. This is called an emergency admission.
Otherwise, your local doctor will refer you to a specialist doctor if he/she thinks you might need to go to hospital.
If the specialist decides that you should be admitted to hospital, but your admission is not an emergency, you will be "booked" to come into hospital at a later date. This is known as a booked admission.
The specialist will fill out a Recommendation for Admission form to be taken to the hospital. Sometimes the specialist will deliver the form to the hospital and sometimes you will be asked to do it. When the hospital receives the form, staff will contact you to let you know approximately how long you may have to wait for your admission.
You must give your informed consent before you have a procedure.
Booked admission patient details are placed on a register at the hospital. This is called a waiting time register. So that hospitals can arrange waiting times to make sure the sickest patients are treated first, the specialist indicates on the booking form how urgently your admission is required. In some cases this will be within days, in other cases within months.
Hospital staff will contact you again when an exact date for your admission has been set. They will try and give you at least two weeks notice of your admission date.
Your Admission Choices
If you choose to be admitted as a public patient:
- You will be treated by doctors nominated by the hospital as you cannot choose your own doctor as a public patient
- You will not be charged for hospital accommodation, medical and diagnostic services, prostheses and other relevant services.
- Once you leave hospital, your follow-up care is usually provided in an outpatient clinic of this hospital.
If you choose to be admitted as a private patient:
- You will have greater choice of Specialist Doctors.
- After you leave hospital your Specialist Doctor usually provides follow-up care in their private room. As a private patient you may 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 available and you have single room health cover.
- You will be helping your hospital as the accommodation fees from health funds go directly to the ward and services providing care to you.
- If you enter hospital through the emergency department or for a planned admission you will be informed, prior to making an election, whether there will be any out-of-pocket expenses for hospital generated accounts or Doctor(s) fees.
For further information on the benefits of choosing to be a private patient please read the ‘What it Means to be a Private Patient’ brochure.
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 means there is less disruption to your normal activities. It 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 for a longer period after the operation, at least overnight.
Preparing for surgery
Before going in for your surgery, you will probably attend a pre-admission clinic where the staff will provide you with information about the surgery and make plans for any needs you may have after the surgery.
A small number of patients may require admission before the day planned for their surgery. Your doctor may need to find out something going on inside your body before the surgery, or to prepare you for surgery.
In all of these cases, your doctor will let you know your 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. The services provided by allied health professionals include physiotherapy, speech pathology, occupational therapy, social work, podiatry, radiology, audiology, nutrition, and orthoptics.
Getting an interpreter
If you have any questions regarding your treatment while you are in hospital, do not hesitate to ask the hospital staff. 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 that a health care interpreter attend the meeting with you and the health professional.
Questions to ask your Doctor
If your Doctor suggests that you see a specialist, ask the following questions:
- Why do you think I need to see a specialist?
- Why are you choosing this particular specialist?
- How much experience do they have in treating my type of health problem?
- Do they work at both public and private hospitals?
- How do I make an appointment with the specialist?
- If I need to be admitted to hospital, how long will I have to wait?
- If the specialist has a lengthy waiting time for admission, is there another specialist you can recommend who can admit me to hospital sooner?
- How do I find out how much it will cost to see the specialist?
Questions to ask the specialist
When you see a specialist, you may be anxious about the health problems you are experiencing and may easily forget to ask some important questions.
It is likely that most of these questions will be answered at the time of your consultation but it’s a good idea to use the following questions as a guide or checklist. Note that some questions are suitable only for surgeons.
- What may happen to me if I do not have the procedure you suggest?
- Can you describe exactly what you intend to do?
- How necessary is this procedure?
- How urgent is this procedure?
- How long will I have to wait for my procedure?
- How long do you expect the procedure to take?
- What type of anaesthetic (general or local) will I need to have?
- What are the risks associated with the procedure?
- What are the risks associated with the anaesthetic?
- Will I need a blood transfusion?
- Will you or someone else be performing the actual procedure?
- At which hospital will the procedure be done? Do you do many of these procedures?
- Will I need any tests before the procedure? What are they?
- Is there anything I should or should not do before the procedure?
- How long will I be in hospital?
- What happens after the procedure? How can I expect to feel after the procedure?
- What sort of follow-up care will I need after I leave hospital?
- How long will I be away from work or unable to perform the routine tasks that I now do?
- How much will it cost me? (procedure, tests, follow-up visits, total)
- Are there any alternatives to the procedure for me?
- What should I do if my condition gets worse while I am waiting for the procedure?
Refer to Common Terms to help understand what specialists do.
Healthcare Associated Infection
Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs) are an ever-present factor in every health system. They are varied and complex. Many are caused by multi-resistant organisms known as MROs that can be difficult to detect and treat.
In New South Wales, hospital staff maintain high infection control standards. NSW hospitals and clinicians actively participate in national and local programs to minimise the risk of acquiring an HAI. Despite this, some patients will still be at greater risk than others of contracting an infection while in hospital. This is especially true for people who are seriously unwell with diseases that affect their body's ability to fight infection, such as those suffering burns or conditions including diabetes.
Some patients can carry a particular germ - a bacteria or virus - without any adverse health effects. But this changes if the germ enters the site of an operation or wound. Some people who have become sick while at home can bring the infection with them when they are admitted to hospital. Others can pick up a germ if a wound is exposed to dirt at the time of their injury. It is also possible to acquire an infection due to the type of treatment or procedure being undertaken in hospital.
An infection will make you feel unwell. It can lengthen your stay in hospital and delay your recovery. In extreme cases, the infection can overwhelm the body's defences and become fatal.
It is possible to significantly reduce the risk of Hospital Associated Infection:
- Thorough hand cleaning by everyone who enters a hospital - healthcare staff, patients and their visitors
- Keeping the healthcare environment clean
- Complying with standard sterile techniques for the insertion and care of intravenous (IV) cannulas and other clinical items
- Identifying patients who are at greater risk of contracting an infection
- Taking prudent precautions such as isolating patients who have contracted multi-resistant organisms (MROs)
- Using antibiotics appropriately to prevent and treat infections
NSW Health and the Clinical Excellence Commission work with hospital staff to ensure they are well equipped to protect patients from contracting infections. Education programs and policies are regularly rolled out across the state to address infection risk.
NSW Health has been collecting HAI data and participating in national research projects and studies for many years. Back in January 2008, NSW Health introduced a mandatory comprehensive data collection system that monitors eight types of HAI data across all public hospitals in the state. NSW is looking forward to the commencement of an integrated, national HAI data collection system in coming years.
It is in everyone's interests to reduce the risk of Hospital Associated Infection - patients, clinicians, carers and the broader community. By working together and observing common sense precautions as outlined above, we can all reduce the risk of HAIs. This, in turn, will help reduce the significant costs associated with the consequences of HAIs, including the need for more complex medical treatments, longer hospital stays that delay bed availability for other patients and the prescribing of additional, expensive antibiotics.