The Hospital Outpatient Pro



We’ve just come back from another long stint at the hospital to see Reuben’s dermatologist.  Everything went according to plan for once, with enough food and drink to keep us going!   This is a HUGE improvement from our first visit where I naively thought we would be in and out in an hour or so.  I didn’t take enough milk, nappies or clothing and we both ended up very miserable by the time it came to the long drive home.

Here are my tips if you’re going in to hospital for an outpatient appointment.

1.  Try and get an appointment early in the morning

It’s less likely to be delayed if it’s first thing.  We go for appointments at 10.30 – 11am as they fit into our ‘schedule’, which will make more sense as you read on!

2.  Book parking or take public transport

Parking in hospital car parks is painfully expensive and it’s notoriously difficult to get a space at the major hospitals with A&E departments.  Around big hospitals you’ll also find all the surrounding roads are pay by meter or permit only.  If there is road parking it may be very stressful finding a space.  Do yourself a favour – reduce stress by booking a parking space in someone’s driveway.  We use Just Park where you can search by the name of the hospital.  Today we paid £2.50 to park in someone’s driveway for a whole day.  We ended up at the hospital for 3 hours for a 10 minute appointment, so it’s much less stressful having a late appointment if you know your car is safe and not racking up charges.

3.  Pack a book, food, drinks, snacks and a pushchair 

Assume you will be there all day.  You’ll be bored, hungry and thirsty and you can’t always pop to the cafe as you’ll be waiting for your appointment and you won’t want to miss it.  Believe me, once you’ve been waiting for an hour and a half, the risk of missing it to get a sandwich just doesn’t seem worth it.  Pack a book for you if you’re alone, or a book for your child if the appointment is for them.  There are books and toys in children’s departments but sometimes they move you to sit directly outside an office or you will go for tests somewhere else in the hospital.  You’ll need to save your book for then.

Also pack anything else you would normally need for a full day out – nappies, wipes, bib, pushchair etc.

4.  Treat the waiting room like a playground

“Yay!  Look!  There’s so many toys here!  Let’s have fun!!”  Make hospital fun for your little one by getting really excited that you get to play there today.  You may be there longer than their usual stint at nursery.  If you’re not going with a child then I completely…totally..retract the above statement!

5.  Go straight to the pharmacy, directly to the pharmacy, do not pass go, do not collect £200.

Do your research before hand so you know the way.  My experience of hospital pharmacies are that they are achingly slow.  So I make sure I take any prescription the doctor has written and go straight there.  My exception is if you’re with a child then use the toilets/ changing facilities in the children’s ward before leaving.  

(Edit: you can take the prescription to your GP if you don’t need it immediately)

Then I…

6.  Go to lunch

Hospital canteens are great value for money and the food is pretty good!  Desserts come with lashings of custard and now is your chance to have a decent hot meal.  You deserve it!  Take your time, don’t rush.  Your parking isn’t timed and the pharmacy won’t have your medicines ready yet.   There’s even time for coffee.

7.  Go back to the pharmacy, pick up your prescription and then GO HOME!!

Yay!  You did it!  You survived an outpatient appointment with (hopefully) very little stress and although it took up all of your day you at least read part of a great book and had lunch out.



I’d love to hear your experiences.  Is it just my bad luck that we end up in hospital for 3-4 hours every time we have a 10 minute appointment?  And have I been the only mother to go to the first appointment completely unprepared for how long it would take?

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