Waiting for surgery

Elective surgery is when your surgery is planned and scheduled in advance. To have elective surgery you need a referral from your GP (local doctor) to see a surgeon. You will be placed on a waiting list and the timing of your surgery will depend on how serious your condition is. Your surgeon will decide this. 

If you need surgery urgently, within a few hours or days, it is usually called emergency surgery. This may happen if you come to hospital via ambulance or come to our Emergency Department.  If you are in hospital and found to have a new illness, you may need emergency surgery to treat it. If you need emergency surgery, you will usually wait in hospital for the surgery.

At your appointment with your surgeon they will explain your health concern and treatment options. You will talk about benefits and risks of these options so that you can decide which treatment is best for you. It is your right to decide whether to have a treatment or surgery. If you choose to go ahead with surgery, the surgeon will ask you to sign a consent form. This form states you understand and accept the treatment.

Your surgeon may tell you to see other doctors to help you make the decision about treatment or surgery. These may include an anaesthetist, cardiologist or geriatrician. When you work with the health care team like this, it is called “shared decision making."

You might want to invite your family or carer to your appointments. Write down all your questions before your appointment and then take notes on what the doctors explain. If you do not understand something the doctors have said, ask them to explain until you thoroughly understand.

You can ask your doctors these questions:

  • What are the treatment options?
  • What are the benefits of each option?
  • What are the risks and possible complications of each option?
  • What happens if I do nothing?
  • What type of anaesthesia will be used? 
  • What should I expect during recovery?

    If you have questions about waiting times you can call the Surgery Access Line on 1800 053 456.

    When we have a date for your surgery our Admissions Department will send you a letter. The letter will have the date of your surgery. They will ask you to telephone our confirmation line within 10 working days to confirm details. Their telephone number is 02 9382 9001.

    If the date of your surgery is not suitable for you, please contact our Admissions Department on 02 9382 9001.

    Sometimes our hospital has to change the date of booked surgery. This may be because we need to provide lifesaving surgery for people who come through our Emergency Department. If we need to change your surgery date, we will contact you.

    Sometimes we have to change the date of your surgery if you are not well enough to have it. To avoid this, see your GP once you decide to have surgery and manage any health conditions that may affect your surgery and recovery. 

    You should discuss the cost of your surgery with your doctor before you come into hospital.

    You can choose to come to our hospital as a public or private patient. Consider your access to Medicare and/or private health insurance. If you come to hospital as a public patient, you will not be out of pocket for any costs of your hospital stay and treatments.

    Talk to your doctor about what you will be like after your surgery and what help you may need. You may need to arrange changes to your house, meal delivery or have a responsible adult to stay. Make sure you have enough of your regular medicines to take when you get home. Book a follow up appointment with your GP.

    You will need to arrange for a responsible adult to take you home if you leave hospital on the day of your surgery. 

    Please let us know in advance if you need an interpreter for your appointments or during your stay in hospital. 

    If you are calling us from outside the hospital, call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) National on 131 450. Tell the operator what language you speak and then ask the interpreter to set up a telephone conversation between you, an interpreter, and the Admissions staff.

    We are a teaching hospital and you may be asked to be involved in research or for a student to be present at your appointment. You have a right to say no. If you do so, this will not impact in any way on the services we will provide.