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Emergency Department

The Paediatric Emergency Department (ED) at John Hunter Children's Hospital cares for around 25,000 children a year. It is co-located with the Adult Emergency Department, with 12 treatment spaces, which includes three single rooms, a sub-wait, procedure room and an interview room .

If I need to bring my child to emergency where do I go and what should I do?

When you arrive at the ED go to the triage nurse, follow the red signs. The purpose of triage is to quickly assess your child's needs and begin planning his/her care.

A nurse will ask you the reason for your visit and examine your child. From triage, you will go to the registration desk. However, if you are brought directly to an ED treatment room, a clerk will come to your child's bedside to register you.

Feel free to ask the triage nurse any questions you have. Some common questions are:

Can I eat or drink anything?

Sometimes, if the nurse suspects your child needs a test or operation which requires an empty stomach, she will advise you not to consume anything while waiting for care.

Can I get pain relief?

Do not hesitate to tell the nurse if your child is in pain or you feel your condition is getting worse

Can I contact anyone?

Feel free to ask the nurse if you can contact family and friends to let them know you are in the Emergency Department awaiting treatment. A family member or friend is welcome to be with you. They may be asked to leave the room for any assessment or procedures but may return when they are completed. Parents of children having treatment are encouraged to stay with their child at all times.

Once your child has been seen by the triage nurse and been registered you will be directed to the paediatric waiting room. Sometimes the triage nurse may refer your child to the after GP service that is available within the hospital; this of course depends on your child condition and the availability of clinic space.

Waiting area

Listen for your name to be called. A nurse will bring you into the ED as soon as a room is available.

Treatment may commence while in the waiting room if the nurse considers this appropriate for your Childs condition, for example a trial of fluids for rehydration.

If you think your child's condition has changed while you are waiting, please tell the triage nurse.

How long might I wait to see the doctor?

Children with life-threatening illnesses, such as those who are not breathing, are seen first. Other children are seen in the order in which they arrive. During certain hours of the day children with less serious problems may be sent to a separate area called Emergency Express. This area deals with less serious problem such as strains or sprains.

We try to see all patients as quickly as possible. Sometimes there are many patients, and our staff is busy caring for very ill children. At these times, the wait may be an hour or longer.

Who will see my child in the Emergency Department?

We will assign a trained nurse to care for your child.

Many of the doctors in the ED are training to be or emergency specialists or paediatricians. A senior doctor will head the medical team that diagnoses and treats your child.

There are 17 Emergency consultants that work in the John Hunter ED, two of these consultants are paediatricians and several more are paediatricians in training.

All of the consultants are trained in managing sick children. There are approximately 12 registrars in emergency medicine along with nurses who are experienced in looking after your child, or who are also in training but supported by more senior nurses, social workers, pharmacists and physiotherapists.


We appreciate visitors may want to see a family member of friend in the emergency department; however our patients come first so there are only two visitors per patient at any one time once you are inside the Emergency Department, unless you speak to the nurse first. There are no restrictions on visiting hours as we are open 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.

Resources for families

Online 'CPR Training for Parents'.

Contact details

In the event of a fire, medical or police emergency, please dial 000.

For any further enquiries please call John Hunter switch on (02)49 213000.