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Theatres - Coming in for surgery

At Warrington and Halton Hospitals we have a combined total of 16 Operating Theatres and 2 Maternity Theatres across our 2 hospital sites.

Warrington Hospital is our acute site responsible for providing our complex elective, and emergency & trauma surgery, we also undertake elective & emergency Maternity procedures on this site.

Halton Hospital is located in Runcorn and is where we perform our day case surgery.  Our Cheshire & Merseyside Treatment Centre is also on the Halton site and is our centre of excellence for planned Orthopaedic surgery which boasts four state of the art, ultra clean air Operating Theatres.

Our excellent 180 strong Theatre team consists of Nurses, Operating Department Practitioners (ODP’s), Support Carers, Sterile Services staff, Admin staff and Porters who are all committed in providing high quality patient care at all times.

Our surgical specialties include:

  • General surgery, including laparoscopic & Colo-rectal
  • Orthopaedic
  • Breast surgery
  • Gynaecology
  • ENT
  • Urology
  • Ophthalmic
  • Dental
  • Vascular (day case)
  • Chronic pain
  • Obstetric surgery

We provide a 24/7 Emergency, Trauma and Maternity service.

Our ODP’s also attend Cardiac Arrests throughout the hospital and Trauma calls in A&E.

If you have been told that you require surgery you will be notified by mail and given an admission date and time to attend, this is called your admission letter or ‘TCI’ letter.  Please read the instructions carefully to ensure you attend the correct site as your operation may be scheduled at either Halton or Warrington accordingly.

Please take note of any instructions that may include medication advice and advice regarding eating or drinking prior to your procedure, failure to do this could result in your operation being postponed.


If your procedure is under a general Anaesthetic you will be invited to attend a Pre-Operative Assessment (Pre-Op) prior to your admission date, this is to ensure that you are fit for surgery and might include having blood tests or further investigations as required, again this could be at either of our Hospitals so please ensure you attend the correct site.

At your Pre-Op you will receive more detailed information that is bespoke to you and in relation to any specific health issues you have or medication you may be taking, please follow these instructions as some medication might need to be stopped whereas others need to be continued up until you attend for your procedure.

You might receive a text or a courtesy call from the Hospital prior to your operation date, this is purely to remind you of your upcoming appointment so that you don’t miss it, please don’t be concerned if you don’t receive a reminder as we are not always able to contact everyone, please still attend on the date provided on your letter.

We will endeavour to ensure your procedure goes ahead as planned and will make all the necessary arrangements such that your experience is excellent, however at significantly busy periods or in situations beyond our control it may be necessary to postpone your operation, we will aim to give you as much notice as possible and will provide you with a new date, similarly if you are unable to attend please also give us as much notice as you can by calling the telephone number on your letter.

If your situation changes or you are unwell please call us for advice.  Please don’t just not turn up, we refer to this as ‘Did Not Attend’ or DNA.  DNA’s cost hospitals a significant amount of money each year when patients just simply fail to attend without informing us first, this also causes gaps on our operating lists where other patients may have been able to receive their much needed treatment.

Not eating or drinking before your operation

This is often referred to as ‘fasting’ or ‘nil by mouth’ and it is very important that you follow the instructions given as they relate specifically to you.  The time when you must stop eating or drinking is based on a number of things such as the time your procedure is scheduled, the type of Anaesthetic you will be receiving and any medical conditions you may have.  If you have mistakenly eaten or drank anything please declare this to the nursing staff on your arrival.

What you might need to bring with you

Please bring your admission letter with you, the nursing team may need to see the letter when you arrive.  Your letter will also have some valuable information and contact details should you have difficulty in finding us.

You might also want to consider packing the following items:

  • A nightdress or pyjamas
  • Clean underwear
  • Dressing gown and slippers
  • Small hand towel
  • Toiletries – soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant
  • Sanitary towels or tampons
  • Razor and shaving material
  • Comb or hairbrush
  • Book or magazines
  • Small amount of money
  • Your usual medication, and a list of the doses for each medicine
  • Address book and important phone numbers, including your GP's contact details

If you’re not familiar with the Hospitals and the location of your ward then you may wish to familiarise yourself with the route.  You can also pre-load your sat nav using the details below so that you are all set for the journey.

Please ensure that you arrive promptly as indicated on your letter, delays to our operating lists can lead to operations being cancelled if we run out of time.

Warrington Hospital

Halton Hospital

Cheshire and Merseyside Treatment Centre


Parking is available on both Hospital sites although there is a charge for stays over 30 minutes.  Payment can be made at one of our machines indoors before the car owner leaves the site, remember to have your registration number to hand as it will need to be entered into the machine.

When you arrive on the day of surgery you will be booked in by our administrative team, you will then be cared for by our nursing staff who will complete the clerking in process and provide you with a patient wristband.  You will be asked many questions to ensure we have all the information we need, please expect to be asked some of the questions repeatedly at each stage of your care as we check and double check some of the details with you.

Common questions include:

Please confirm your name, date of birth and address?
We need to ensure that we are speaking to the correct person and that all our documentation is correct, this will be checked against your patient wristband.

What procedure are you having today?
We need you to confirm that you know exactly what procedure you are having and that our documentation reflects this.

Have you signed your consent form?
You have to give us written permission to proceed with your treatment, please ensure that you read this document fully and that all the information is correct before you sign it.

Please confirm what side the operation is on, has it been marked?
This is to ensure that your operation site is confirmed and that it matches your consent form and all of our other documents.

When did you last eat or drink?
It’s important that your stomach is empty prior to your Anaesthetic.

Do you have any allergies?
This is to ensure that we avoid drugs which you are allergic to, and it’s also important to know if you have any other allergies such as hay fever, latex, metal, iodine or absolutely anything else that you are sensitive to.

You will be reviewed by one of our surgical Doctors who may examine you and discuss your procedure with you, you will be asked to sign your consent form at this point. 

Your Anaesthetist will also visit you prior to your operation to ensure that you remain fit enough for your procedure, the Anaesthetist may listen to your chest and request some final tests before you go to Theatre.

Preparation for Theatre

The nursing staff will make sure you are prepared for Theatre in good time, this might include the following:

  • Removing all clothing and putting on a Theatre gown
  • Removing body piercings, make up or nail varnish
  • Shaving the operation site
  • Wearing surgical stockings
  • Remove dentures
  • Remove glasses/contact lenses
  • Complete checklist of questions

The Theatre team will send for you when they are ready to perform your operation, a porter will escort you to the Theatre department with a member of the ward nursing team.  You may be able to walk to Theatre, alternatively a trolley or wheelchair will be used.

When you arrive in Theatre reception you will be met by a member of the Theatre team who will confirm your details with you and ensure all your notes are complete, you will then be escorted into the Anaesthetic room where the complete checklist of questions will be asked again.

The choice of anaesthetic is determined by the type of operation you are having, and whilst the majority of procedures carried out in an Operating Theatre are performed under a general anaesthetic, alternative methods are available for some procedures. Find out more here.

You will be monitored throughout your procedure which will include your pulse, oxygen levels, blood pressure & ECG, these machines are characterized by their various beeps and alarm sounds.

In Theatre we have a number of checklists that we go through prior to commencing your anaesthetic, these are standardised across the NHS and are known as the WHO Safer Surgery Checklists.  The checklists are designed for your safety during your time with us in Theatre so please don’t be alarmed when you hear us doing this.

WHO is an acronym for World Health Organisation.

The types of anaesthetic are listed below; 

General Anaesthetic

A general anaesthetic is used for most major operations where you are required to be fully asleep throughout the procedure, medication including strong painkillers are given to ensure you remain unconscious and pain free throughout. 

General anaesthetic drugs are administered through a cannula in your hand or arm, once asleep your breathing will be supported with oxygen & anaesthetic gas, in some cases your airway will be protected using a breathing tube in your windpipe.

In most cases you also be given fluids though the same cannula to help with rehydration.

Your Anaesthetist will only wake you when the procedure has finished and you will then be transferred into the Recovery room.  Due to the medication you have received you may not remember this part when you are fully awake later.


Sedation is often used for investigative procedures when a general anaesthetic is not required such as an endoscopy, you will be heavily sedated throughout and fully able to tolerate the procedure, however you will be able to hear us and be able to respond to us.

A sedative drug is administered through a small needle in your hand or arm.

Regional Anaesthetic – Epidural/Spinal

Epidurals are commonly used to control labour pain in pregnant women and to perform a caesarean section, an epidural can also be used for some surgical procedures on the lower body.  A fine catheter is inserted into the back using a needle and held in place using a stitch or special device & dressing, medication can then be administered directly to the nerves supplying the lower region of your body.

A spinal is a single injection into the spinal fluid and is sometimes used in urology procedures where the patient isn’t fit enough for a general anaesthetic.

A regional anaesthetic creates a numbness in the lower body and legs and you will feel unable to move your legs, this effect can last a number of hours so you mustn’t try to stand up or get out of bed until the nurses or Doctors have assessed you.

Local Anaesthetic

A local anaesthetic involves the injection a drug in or around the area of the operation, many people will have experienced this at the dentist.  The same technique is used for the removal of minor skin lesions such as cysts, moles or warts.  Ophthalmic procedures such as cataract removals are often performed using a local anaesthetic.

A local anaesthetic will gradually wear off shortly after your procedure and you may feel a tingling sensation as this happens, you may be advised to take oral painkillers to ease any discomfort afterwards.

Following your procedure you will be transferred into the Recovery room where you will be allowed time to recover following your operation, we can often have a number of patients in the area at any given time so please don’t be alarmed by the many beeps and sounds of the various monitors.

If you have had a general anaesthetic you will be given oxygen via a facemask and this might even be continued for many hours once you are back on the ward.  We will continue to monitor you in recovery and will only discharge you back to the ward when we are happy that you are fully conscious and comfortable. 

You can expect to feel a little disorientated in the recovery room following a general anaesthetic and sometimes even a little tearful, this is normal and quite common. 

When ready the recovery staff will call the ward nurse to collect you and you will be discharged from our care.

We have a strict discharge criteria in place to ensure that you are fully fit to return to the ward.  Your Recovery practitioner will give the ward nurse a full and thorough handover which will include a detailed description of the procedure you have had, details regarding any stitches or clips used and the type of dressing applied.  In some major cases it’s necessary to have a drain in situ, this will also be checked and discussed with the ward nurse.

All post-op instructions will be relayed at the handover and this will include any pain killers i.v. fluids or oxygen that you may have been prescribed. 

Once back on the ward the nursing team will continue to supporting you as the effects of the Anaesthetic wear off, once you are able to take food and drink you will be given a light snack, for day cases this might simply be a drink and a biscuit.

Warrington Hospital

The Nightingale Building (formerly known as Halton Hospital)