A nurse is taking the blood pressure of a patient A member of staff is at a computer, he's turning away from the screen to smile at the screen.

What is a pre-operative assessment?

Most patients coming into hospital for an operation will be asked to have a pre-operative assessment clinic appointment. This is an appointment with a nurse or health care assistant on the phone or by video conferencing to assess patients prior to surgery. In some cases, you may be asked to attend your pre-operative assessment appointment in person.

Procedures under local anaesthesia such as for teeth extraction or hysteroscopy may not need to have a pre-operative assessment. You will be notified as to what type of anaesthesia you are having when you have your outpatient appointment.

Our nurses are trained in pre-operative assessment. If you have more complex medical issues, we may refer you to an anaesthetic consultant-led clinic.

Why do you need to have a pre-operative assessment?

  • It’s important because it gives us information about your medical history, your general health, any medicines you are taking and any previous experience with anaesthetics.
  • To make sure you are given as much information as you need about what will happen before, during and after the operation
  • To give you an opportunity to ask any questions about your procedure and your care whilst you are in hospital

What happens at the pre-operative assessment?

As part of your preoperative assessment, you will first be asked to complete your health questionnaire at home online via LifeBox which is a digital preoperative assessment tool.  Once this is submitted, your health questionnaire will be reviewed by a nurse. The hospital will then contact you to arrange your virtual appointment by phone or video conferencing approximately 4 -5 weeks before your planned procedure date. See our LifeBox page for all the details.

If you need help completing your LifeBox health questionnaire

  • you can ask family or friends to help you if you have any problems completing the questionnaire
  • if you need technical help with completing your health questionnaire, you can use the messaging chat box on the bottom left-hand side of the screen when you visit the LifeBox website
  • most patients will be able to complete their health questionnaire themselves but if you need support with completing it, the booked admissions team will arrange an appointment for a nurse to help you complete the questionnaire over the phone or in person. You can contact booked admissions on 020 8510 5544 or email
    huh-tr.bookings_cancellationsfollowup@nhs.net  Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, excluding bank holidays.

The rest of your preoperative assessment appointment will be conducted over the phone or via video conferencing unless you have been asked to attend in person. During this appointment we will

  • confirm your full name and other details
  • review your answers in the HQ from LifeBox and if we have any questions, we will run through these with you
  • then arrange for you to come into the hospital to have some observations and to take some swabs
  • provide you with advice on how to prepare for your upcoming procedure. You can read our 10 things to do before admission  leaflet.

What happens at your observations and swabs appointment?

You will need to come into the hospital to have your observation and swabs appointment. We will record your height and weight, observe your blood pressure, pulse, saturation levels and on some patients take MRSA swabs from two different parts of your body (nose and groin). This is to screen for MRSA bacteria that can cause infections. Any infection must be treated before you can have your procedure.

You can eat, drink and take your medications as normal when coming in for observation/swabs appointment day.

As part of your assessment, you may also undergo an electrocardiogram (ECG) , blood test or other related investigations

What happens after your observations and swabs appointment?

Once all your observations and tests are completed, the nurse will check the results. They will contact you if they need to discuss anything with you.

You must be assessed as being well enough (fit) before you can have your surgery.

If you have high blood pressure, or high blood sugar levels, we will refer you to your GP. Your GP may send you for further investigations or start you on medications. You will have to return for the preoperative assessment at a later date to check the reading again to make sure that you are fit for your operation.

Your procedure may be cancelled if you’re found to be unfit.

Pre-operative assessment walk-in clinic

We have a walk–in clinic to assess patients on the same day of their outpatient appointment for urgent cases. Once you have agreed with your surgeon to undergo a procedure, we will send you to our one-stop preoperative assessment clinic. You will have to go through the same process as above except this will all be done on the same day, and you will not have to return on a separate day to have your observations and swabs.

If you are unable to attend a walk-in clinic on the same day, we will arrange an appointment on a different day.