Emergency department - Royal London Hospital

What to expect when you arrive

We are committed to offering every patient the best possible care, in comfortable surroundings, with access to the very latest therapies and treatments. 

If you have travelled to the hospital yourself, then you will first need to book in at reception (if you are brought to the hospital by ambulance this will be done for you) 

We will greet you on arrival and arrange for you to see a specialist as soon as possible. We know that coming to the hospital in an emergency can be a distressing and stressful experience and we will work hard to make you feel as comfortable as possible during your visit. 

Remember that you can call 111 or access 111 online if you have a non-emergency medical query. 

Facilities in PED

There is a breastfeeding room in our PED waiting room and two rooms with baby changing facilities. We keep a small number of nappies in the department but wherever possible please bring a supply with you when you attend the PED. 

There is a vending machine in the main adult waiting room, and there are shops on Whitechapel Road, a few minute's walk from the PED where food can be purchased. 

If you are asked to stay for observation, then staff can arrange a snack box or a hot meal. If your child has specific food & drink requirements, then please try wherever possible to bring these with you when you come to the PED. 

There are toys to help distract children while they are waiting to be seen. Our play specialist will help support children needing distraction when they are available. If you know your child would benefit from a specific distraction toy/device, then please try wherever possible to bring it with you when you come to PED (and any associated chargers). 

Initial Assessment

After being registered, everyone who comes to the Emergency Department is assessed on arrival, so patients can be seen in order of priority. 

We understand that long waits can be frustrating, however, it means that the patients going ahead of you are more unwell or are expected by a different team of specialists, even if that isn’t always visible. 

Some of the sickest patients come directly through another entrance and you may not be aware of their arrival in the department. 

After you have had your initial assessment, you may be directed to another service, such as the co-located Urgent Treatment Centre, a community service or one of a number of co-located Same Day Emergency Care (SDEC) services within the hospital.  

If you remain in the emergency department you will either be seen in the adult or paediatric (children’s) area. 

Paediatric (Children’s) Emergency

The Royal London has a specialist children's emergency department which is part of the wider emergency department. It is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

Our Paedaitric Emergency Department (PED) treats children from new-born to 17 years old. Anyone attending after their 18th birthday will be directed to the adult ED. 

Children aged 16 and above who require admission to the Royal London Hospital as in inpatient will usually be admitted to an adult ward under the care of the appropriate adult team. 

Children over 16 years old who are under ongoing care of specialist teams at our Children's Hospital and yet to transition to adult services will continue to be admitted to one of our children’s wards. The PED sees over 37,000 babies, children & young people, with a wide range of injuries and illnesses, both physical and mental health related. They are cared for by a dedicated tam of nurses and doctors who work in PED. They are also supported by a play specialist, who is in the department during normal working hours. 

Patients needing to be seen by one of our specialty teams will usually be seen in the PED. Patients needing a longer period of assessment may be admitted to our Paediatric Clinical Decision Unit (PCDU) located next to PED, or transferred to the Paediatric Assessment Unit (PAU) located within the Children’s Hospital on the 7th floor or they may be admitted to one of the Children’s Hospital wards. 

Visiting & Contacting PED

Wherever possible we would ask that only one parent attends the PED with their child when they need assessment and that again where possible, no other siblings are brought to PED. This is to help us with infection control in our waiting room and to ensure there is sufficient space for all children and one parent to be seated in our waiting room. 

The exceptions to this are: 

• Critically unwell patients 

• Those under 28 days 

• Those with significant learning disability or complex needs requiring two people to look after them. 

• Children who are being admitted and are resident in a PED cubicle awaiting admission can have two parents sit with them inside the cubicle. 

If you wish to contact a parent of a child in the department, you are best to call them on their personal phone. If for any reason you are unable to reach them, then please call the main hospital switchboard on 020 3377 7000 and ask to be transferred to the PED. 

We are unable to offer any clinical advice by phone. Please call 111 or access 111 online if you need advice. If you are concerned that is it an emergency then you can call 999. 

We are also unable to provide waiting times. Patients are seen at different times depending on how sick they are and which team they need to be seen by. We always endeavour to aim to diagnose, treat and discharge or admit all children within four hours (in line with national guidance). Please do not call the department to ask for the waiting times. 

Children and Young People with additional needs

We know that for children and young people with additional needs, the PED environment can be overwhelming due to the light, sound and activity. Please let the nurse who sees you at your initial assessment know if your child has additional needs and may require some additional accommodation. 

Whenever possible, we will try to accommodate any child or young person with additional needs in a quieter area and we can provide sensory play equipment on request.  

As above, if your child or young person has any specific food or distraction device requirements or if they require any sensory protection equipment, please try wherever possible to bring this with you as we cannot guarantee we can provide specific equipment that meets every individual's needs. 

Additional information on visiting the Royal London Hospital when you have a child or young person with additional needs can be found here and here