From mealtimes to safety precautions, coming into hospital can sometimes be daunting and there is a lot you may want to know. Find out what you can expect

When you arrive

Tell staff if you are taking medication or if you have brought any medication with you to hospital. If you need any special assistance while in hospital, let staff know.


We want you to have a safe and comfortable a stay with us. Unfortunately accidents sometimes happen in hospital, so for your safety we’d ask you to follow these eight, simple guidelines:

Download pdf version of the guidelines

Who will look after me? 

All of our staff wear name badges and will introduce themselves to you when they are involved in your care.


During your stay with us, a consultant (senior doctor), will have overall responsibility for your care. A doctor will usually examine you and talk through your medical history, and you will be introduced to a nurse who will look after you on the ward or unit where you are staying.

You will see a doctor during their daily ward round and this is a good opportunity to ask questions about your condition or the procedure or treatment you are having.

If you feel particularly strongly about seeing a female or male doctor, please let one of the staff on the ward know.

Nurses and midwives

Each ward is managed by a ward sister or charge nurse who wears a blue uniform. Groups of wards are supervised by senior nurses called matrons who wear a maroon coloured uniform. Nurses on our wards work in shifts and you’ll have a named nurse for every shift who’ll introduce themselves to you. If you are pregnant and your pregnancy is uncomplicated, you will be looked after by a midwife. You may also meet other healthcare professionals such as healthcare support workers, physiotherapists and radiologists.

Consenting to treatment

Before your procedure, your doctor will explain what it involves and answer any questions you may have. You will then be asked for your consent. If you do not understand what you are being told, let the doctor know so they can clarify. No medical treatment will be given without your consent.


Everyone working for the NHS has a legal duty to maintain patient confidentiality. Information about you and your care is kept strictly confidential. Further information can be found here:

My records

On the ward


Where will I stay?

You will usually be cared for on a ward specialising in the treatment of the condition or illness you have.

Wards are made up of separate bays and we will make sure that everyone in your bay is the same sex as you, although there may be both male and female patients staying on the same ward. There are separate bathrooms for men and women, and there are curtains around each bed to ensure your privacy. 

If you need to have a test or procedure, we will provide you with hospital gowns and make sure your privacy and dignity is protected at all times. 

The daily schedule varies from ward to ward. A day on the ward will usually begin early, as many patients have to receive treatment or medication. Breakfast is often served from 8.00. 

If you have any questions about your ward or special requests, speak to the ward sister or charge nurse who manages the ward.

How we are making sure patients stay in same sex accommodation

MRSA screening

We screen all our patients for MRSA either before or within 24 hours of their admission to hospital. We can find out if you are carrying MRSA by taking a sample, using a swab, from your skin (generally the groin) and inside of your nose. A swab is like a cotton bud that is placed on the area to be tested. The test is painless and only takes a few seconds to complete.


We will provide you with a cupboard next to your bed for your personal belongings. Cupboards do not have a lock so we don’t recommend using them for valuables or large sums of money.

Keeping in touch

We have introduced several initiatives to help you keep in touch with family and friends during your stay in hospital. Learn more about keeping in touch.

Meals and meal times

Meals are provided free of charge. All our hospitals cater for a variety of dietary and cultural requirements, such as vegetarian, vegan, halal and kosher. Please let our ward staff know if you have any special dietary requirements.

Meal times

Meals are served at the following times:

  • Breakfast: 08.00 to 09.00
  • Lunch: 12.30 to 13.30
  • Evening meal: 17.45 to 18.45

In between meals, drinks are served at approximately 10.15, 15.00 and 18.30, and include tea, coffee, Horlicks, hot chocolate, milk and squash. Snacks, such as fruit, cakes and biscuits, are offered twice daily at 10.15 and 15.00.

Need extra help at meal times?

If you need extra help at meal times please let a member of the nursing staff know. For example, you may need help:

  • choosing a suitable meal for your dietary requirements
  • cutting up your food
  • eating 

Clean hands policy

We encourage all patients to wash their hands before eating. Please ask a member of staff if you need any assistance. A hand wipe will also be provided on your meal tray.

To help reduce the spread of infection, you should wash your hands with soap and water often – for at least 20 seconds. Where soap and water are not available, please use hand sanitiser gel.

Please wash your hands (or apply hand sanitiser gel): 

  • before eating – ask a member of staff if you need any help and a hand wipe will also be provided on your meal tray to make hand hygiene before eating easier
  • thoroughly with soap and water after using the toilet
  • before entering or leaving a ward. Hand sanitiser gel dispensers are near the entrance to all wards. Please speak to a member of staff if the dispenser needs refilling.

Always avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Please ask staff if they have washed their hands if you ever have any concerns that they may not have done so. All staff have training on infection control and effective hand washing and we check this practice regularly.


To make it easier for patients to keep in touch with family and friends, we have upgraded our NHS Wi-Fi service to allow for video calls and entertainment streaming services free of charge. This has been funded by Imperial Health Charity. To connect to the network, search for ‘NHS Wi-Fi’ on your mobile phone or laptop device and sign up. With the support of our Charity, we are also giving wards tablet devices for patients to use for virtual visiting if they do not have access to their own device. Speak to the staff on your ward for more details

Smoking and alcohol

Smoking is not permitted at any of our hospitals or in the grounds.

Alcohol is not permitted at any of our hospitals. If a patient is found with alcohol or illegal drugs, we reserve the right to withhold treatment. For illegal drugs we will also immediately inform the police.

Other support

We have a team of chaplains, and multi-faith representatives who can provide you with spiritual, emotional and pastoral support and advice.