Why do I need to go to hospital?
If a doctor cannot deal with your problem themselves, they’ll usually refer you to a hospital for tests, treatment or to see a consultant with specialised knowledge.
This can be alarming, and it’s natural to worry about the worst-case-scenario, but bear in mind that your GP surgery can’t be equipped to cope with everything and that it’s always best to get things checked out properly.
How do I get an appointment?
Your GP will usually make the appointment for you, and you should get confirmation of your hospital appointment in writing.
It’s important to attend appointments, or notify the ward if you have to cancel or change it. Be aware that changing or cancelling your appointment could result in a longer wait before you see a specialist.
Tackling hospital appointment nerves
It’s quite normal to be concerned or nervous about a hospital appointment. Talking to someone you trust will help, and you could ask them to come with you, so you have some moral support. Make sure you know where the hospital is and how to get there so you can get there in plenty of time and don’t have to rush. It will help you to relax and stay calm.
You don’t have to tell your parents or carers, but even if your health problem is embarrassing or upsetting, it will help to talk to someone – even if you think it might make them cross or upset. If you feel you can’t talk to your parents or carers, then try to talk to another adult that your trust, such as your doctor or to a friend.
Waiting for test results
If you have gone to hospital for tests it is likely that you will need to wait for the results. This can take days or sometimes even weeks.
If you have to wait for test results, ask if the hospital or your doctor will contact you, or if you need to call them. Make a note of who to contact and when. If you think results are late, don’t worry, and just call anyway to check what’s happening.
If you need a follow up appointment this will be made for you by the hospital or your doctor.
What if it’s something serious?
If you are diagnosed with anything that is going to affect your health seriously your doctor or specialist will explain the condition and possible treatments in as much detail as possible. But don’t be afraid to keep asking questions – the more you know about the condition, the better you will be able to deal with it.
If you are worried or upset by a diagnosis, talk to someone. It is particularly important to involve your family as they will be affected by your health and could be the best form of support available to you.
It can feel like people close to you who do not have any health concerns don’t understand what you’re dealing with. Your doctor or the NHS Direct helpline should be able to recommend a support group, where you can talk to other people who are going through the same thing and do understand how it affects your life.
Whoever you talk to, make sure you don’t feel alone. Make sure you don’t take any treatment advice from anyone other than your doctor or specialist unless you have talked it through with them. Alternative therapies can be beneficial but you must make sure they don’t stop your regular medical treatment from working properly.
If you don’t understand what’s going on, or if you feel like you’re being blasted with complicated medical terms you don’t understand, ask for things to be explained again. You’re not being stupid – sometimes when people deal with things every day, they can forget that you don’t know what they’re talking about. If you still don’t understand ask a nurse or your GP to explain what’s happening or call the NHS Direct helpline.
It’s important to understand what’s going on, as this will help you, (and your family), from worrying unnecessarily and help you make any choices that are necessary.
See the NHS website (www.nhs.uk) to search online for a hospital and directions on how to get there. In an emergency, always call 999
Who can help?
For advice and support you can either visit the NHS Direct website at www.nhsdirect.com or call their 24 hour confidential helpline on 0845 46 47.
For more details on the NHS and the services they offer in your area visit the NHS site at www.nhs.uk.
Youth Health Talk is a website about young people’s real life health experiences, covering topics including teenage cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and sexual health. You can watch videos of young people talking about their experiences and join in the conversation on the forums at www.youthhealthtalk.org.