A NSW Government website

Managing appointments

Getting the most out of your appointments

Organising and going to healthcare appointments with your child can be a stressful time. Preparing for these appointments can help. Here are some tips for things you can do before and during an appointment, as well as information to help with booking or changing appointments.

Know the location

Outpatient clinic appointments with paediatric specialists are held at both the John Hunter Children’s Hospital and the Royal Newcastle Centre (at the other end of the building).  Please check your appointment reminder carefully as it will tell you which location your appointment is at.

A map of the John Hunter Children’s Hospital and Royal Newcastle Centre clinic locations can be found on the HNEkids website to help you to find the right clinic: John Hunter Children's Hospital Map

Questions to consider before the appointment

What is the appointment is for? 
If you are not sure, call the service that organised the appointment to find out.

Is the appointment face-to-face or via telehealth?
If you are not sure, call the service that organised the appointment to find out.

Is a physical examination required for the appointment?
If so, it is a good idea to prepare your child for this. Make sure they wear clothes that are comfy and easy to take off for the exam, like shorts and a singlet.

Does your child feel scared or worried when they have to go to the doctor? Is there a specific time during the visit that makes them feel anxious?
Some children feel more nervous before the visit, when they arrive at the hospital, in the waiting room, or during the actual visit. Being aware of this and letting your child's care team know ahead of time, can help them prepare for your visit.

Is there a support person who you or your child would like to attend the appointment with you?
This could be a grandparent or sibling. Let them know early about the appointment.

Is there something that helps your child to calm/settle that you can bring to the appointment?
Organise to bring a favourite soft toy, book or game. You might like to consider a reward or treat that you can give them following the appointment (this doesn’t have to be a large cost; it can be planning to do your child’s favourite activity).

Do you have questions for your healthcare team?
Take time to think about any questions you/your child have for the doctor/therapist. Write these questions down and bring them to the appointment.

How much does your child want to be involved in the conversation during the appointment?
Find this out ahead of time, as it will help them to feel comfortable during the appointment. This becomes more important as your child gets older and will move from child to adult services.

Do you have any other appointments planned for your child?
If you have multiple appointments, you can let your teams know and they may be able to move these appointments to the same day, if possible.

What to do during appointments

Here are some things that you can do during your child's appointments to make the most of them:

  • Ask everyone in the room to introduce themselves (if they haven't already).
  • Mention that you have a list of questions at the start of the appointment to ensure they all get answered.
  • Let the doctor/therapist know how your child likes to communicate, so that they can involve them in the conversation.
  • If you're unsure about something (e.g. what a test result means, what to expect during a procedure), ask the doctor/therapist to explain.
  • Ask for a contact number in case you have questions after the appointment.
  • Request written notes for important information discussed during the appointment.
  • Find out when the doctor/therapist wants to see your child again and if it will be in-person or through telehealth.
  • When booking the follow-up appointment, check if you have any other appointments already booked. If so, ask if the follow-up can be arranged for the same day.

Tips for making appointment changes

Here are some tips for making changes to appointments:

  • Before contacting the service, make sure you are clear about the details of the appointment you want to change. 
    • Who is the appointment with?
    • When is the date and time of the appointment?
    • Where is the appointment taking place (e.g. is it at John Hunter Children's Hospital or is it in the community)?
    • Is the appointment telehealth (online) or face-to-face?
  • Think about whether making changes to this appointment will affect other appointments (e.g. if you move an appointment for a test that needs to be done before seeing a specialist, you may also need to move the specialist appointment). You may need to change more than one appointment.
  • For appointments that you cannot attend in person, ask if the appointment can be changed to a telehealth consult. Whether this is available will depend on the service and what the appointment is for.
  • If you are cancelling an appointment, let the service know whether or not you want to re-schedule.

Please keep in mind that some doctors and teams use different booking systems. This means that not all staff will be able to make changes to all appointments. This is challenging for everyone, so please be patient if they need to redirect your call or call you back.

Useful phone numbers for rescheduling appointments

HNEkids Complex Care Coordinator0477 688 299
JHCH Paediatric Outpatient Department4921 3750
John Hunter Children's Hospital Allied Health4921 3700
HNEkids Rehab4925 7868
Royal Newcastle Centre Outpatient Department4922 3912

More information about outpatient clinics, regional hospitals and community health services in Hunter New England can be found through the following links.