Your hospital appointments

How to make the most of your hospital appointment

Before your appointment

  • Questions may come to you at different times. Write them down — have a pen and paper always at hand.
  • If you can, run through your questions the day before. This also gives you the opportunity to add any additional questions and ensures you ask what you want to ask.
  • Ask a friend or family member to come with you. They may hear things that you don’t and vice versa.
  • Parents- ask your child if they have any questions they would like to ask or have asked on their behalf. You may wish to encourage your child to ask the questions themselves. You could help to prepare them. Explain to them what you are proposing to ask.
  • Young people may also wish to talk to their parent/carer about the questions they wish to ask. This may include saying that as a young person you wish to have some time on your own with the doctor or nurse.


  • It is normal to have questions. Most health professionals are happy to answer them although occasionally they may have to come back to you at a later date to provide an answer.
  • We often understand and remember only a quarter of what we hear. That’s why it’s often helpful to bring someone else with you.
  • It is normal to need things to be explained more than once.

During your appointment

  • Your questions are important; use your list and tick off the questions as they are asked and answered.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t understand, for example ‘Can you say that again?’, or ‘I don’t understand what you mean?’
  • Whilst your question is being answered you may want to make notes, or ask a family member or friend to take notes.
  • Your notes may help to stimulate additional questions.
  • If you don’t understand any words, ask for them to be written down or explained. You may find CLDF’s glossary of terms
  • Check in with your child — do they have any additional questions?

Before you leave

Summarise what has been said and the plan of action, as you understand it.

Check that:

  • You understand what has been said.
  • You have covered all your questions and they have been answered to your satisfaction.
  • All of your child’s questions have been answered to their satisfaction and they understand what has been said.

Depending upon the nature of your appointment or meeting, additional questions may include:

  • Checking that all the tests have been done.
  • Finding out when test results will be available.
  • Finding out who you need to contact to get test results.
  • Asking who will look at and evaluate the test results and if tests will need to be repeated
  • What do the results mean?
  • Who do you contact if you have any additional questions?

Don’t be afraid to ask for test results to be explained. The meaning of the results may flag up additional questions, for example knowing what the next steps are may help you to plan for the future.

After your appointment

  • Write down the discussion and what happens next.
  • Book any tests or future appointments. Put the dates in your diary.
  • If you are the parent of a young person check in with your child, do they know what happens next? Do they want to talk about what was said? Do they understand?
  • It may take some time to get your head around all the information you have been given. You may find that the information or answers you have been given raise new questions.
  • If family or friends have not been at the appointment you may want to sit down together to share information.
  • If a question is on your mind and concerning you, it’s always best to contact your hospital team and try to resolve it.

Top Tip

Keep a record of test results, these could prove invaluable during an appointment or meeting, especially if care is shared between two centres.

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