Welcome to the Paediatric Assessment Unit (PAU)

We understand that an admission to hospital can be a distressing and difficult time for children and their families.

We hope that this information may answer some of your questions. However, if there is something that you wish to discuss or a question that you want to ask, please feel free to approach our staff.

Patients are seen in time order, but our paediatric doctors provide urgent care to children across the children’s ward, the emergency department, the neonatal unit and birthing areas.

You will be seen by a nurse shortly after arrival, and part of this assessment is to ensure that the most unwell are seen first. This may mean that children who arrive after you may be seen before you.

Because of this, it is not possible for our team to give predictions for how long you will have to wait to be seen. We will be able to give you an idea if the department is very busy. This can still change a lot though, for example if some very unwell children need seeing first.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, only one carer per family will be allowed into the hospital, but please feel free to swap over the person who will be with the child.

Everyone in the hospital will need to wear a fluid resistant surgical mask, which we will provide, and everyone must practice good social distancing and hand hygiene and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

You may notice that things look or run slightly differently than previous visits to us. These steps have been put in place to keep everyone as safe as possible. Things may continue to change as we respond to the latest guidance.

If your child needs an admission we will need to test your child and the parent that will be staying with them for COVID-19, even if they do not have symptoms. The test involves collecting a bit of mucus from their nose and/or throat, using a small tube or cotton bud. It might be a little uncomfortable and make them cough or sneeze. This will help us ensure we keep you, your child and everyone else as safe as possible.

You will see staff wearing various types of personal protective equipment (PPE), like masks and aprons. They’re trained on how to reduce the risk of passing on the virus within the hospital, including when masks and other types of PPE should be worn and how cleaning activities should be carried out across the hospital. This is based on the latest national guidance for COVID-19 infection control.

We can only test children who are likely to be admitted to the ward. Depending on which test is done this test will take between 1-2 hors to come back.

If your child is symptomatic and meets the criteria for a Covid-19 yes, please visit the government site, to book a PCR.

Please remember that government advice has always been that lateral flow tests are only to be used when people do not have symptoms of Covid-19. Children and adults with symptoms need a more accurate PCR test.

Paediatric doctors and nurse practitioners: They see the patients and examine them and order tests. They decide what is wrong and whether patients need to come into hospital or can be allowed to go home. They are based across the whole of the child health department, including looking after children on other wards.

Paediatric staff nurses: The staff nurses deliver care to the patients and ensure the ward runs smoothly. They remain based in the paediatric assessment unit (PAU).

Nursery nurses: The nursery nurses are experts in distraction therapy. This is something very important when caring for children who find themselves in a usually very unplanned emergency situation requiring treatments. They also help with recording the vital signs (observations) of children, and help with tests and treatments for patients.

Play team: The Play team supports opportunities for children and young people to play while they are receiving healthcare. The team are experts in specialised and therapeutic play for children and young people which can be accessed both during outpatient clinics and on the wards.

Specialty doctors: Other doctors come to the paediatric assessment unit (PAU) to see children. These include general surgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, urologists etc. These doctors have patients across the rest of the hospital, as well as patients undergoing surgery in theatre.

The information below has a list of the facilities within Ipswich, with opening times. The closest facilities to the Paediatric Assessment Unit (PAU) is the Costa Coffee and WH Smith which now sells M&S Food.

As the door to paediatrics is kept locked, a staff member will be very happy to let you out and back in again, but please let us know you are leaving the ward.

There is a water fountain with disposable cups and sugar-free squash in the main waiting area.

We ask that no hot drinks are brought into the department without lids.


Courtyard Restaurant

  • The Courtyard Restaurant is on the main corridor, towards the north end of the hospital (entrance 15).
    Opening times: 7.30am – 4.30pm (Monday – Friday)

Cafes/takeaway snacks

  • DeliMarche cafe at central outpatients (entrance 6) and sells Costa Coffee.
    Opening times: 7.30am – 5pm (Monday – Friday).
  • Costa Coffee located in the South zone of the hospital.
    Temporary opening times: 8am – 7pm (Monday – Friday); 9am – 4pm (Saturdays and Sundays)

Vending machines

In maternity reception (entrance 8) there are 24-hour vending machines for cold snacks and hot and cold drinks.


  • WH Smiths – south end of hospital, which sells M&S food (Open Monday – Friday 7am – 8.30pm; Saturday 8am – 7pm; Sunday 9am – 7pm)
  • WH Smiths Central Outpatients – entrance 6 – (Open Monday to Friday 7.30am – 5.30pm) .
  • Stock Shop (clothes and accessories) at the south end – (Open Monday – Friday 9am – 5.30pm; Saturday Midday-4pm; Sunday closed)

There are toilets along the main corridor on the right walking away from the nurses station.

There is a baby changing station in the toilet. If you are based in a room, please feel free to use the bed to change your baby. If the toilet is being used, please ask a member of staff if there is a room free that you can use.

Dirty nappies go into the yellow bins.

An automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) system is in place at Ipswich Hospital, meaning you only pay for the time you are here.

You can use your bank card or mobile phone, as well as cash, to pay for your stay.

We have also introduced a 30 minute-free period meaning you will not be charged for dropping off or picking someone up from our site.

Note for Blue Badge holders: The general office opening hours have been extended so we can continue to support Blue Badge holders with their registration for the new Automatic Number plate Recognition (ANPR) System. The office can be found at the south end of the hospital opposite Boxford and Bramford wards.
General office opening times: Monday to Friday (8am to 5pm); Saturday (9am to 2pm)

Parking – pay at the machines:

You do this when you are ready to leave.

When you are ready to leave the hospital, go to the machines in the car parks and enter all of your number plate. Press the search button and 3 options will appear:

  • Option 1 “Yes, that’s my vehicle and the correct entry time” – press and pay for parking
  • Option 2 “This is my vehicle but the entry time is wrong” – press and it takes you to the honesty screen
  • Option 3 “No, the picture is not my vehicle” – press and it takes you to the honesty screen

If the vehicle is not found it takes you to the honesty screen.

Parking machine locations

Depending on where you have parked, the closest parking ticket machines to the paediatric assessment unit (PAU) are to the right of the entrance to the emergency department, behind the bus stops.

If you have a question about parking at Ipswich Hospital please email the travel plan team.

Your team will discuss where your child is going and the next steps. We will try and give you warning that this might be a possibility, but sometimes this is not possible.

We appreciate receiving feedback, both good and bad. It is very motivating for our team to hear what has been going well, and we are very keen to hear what could be improved.

You can click on this link to complete our anonymous feedback form.

You will have received an email with the link to this page. At the bottom of that email is a link to the feedback from if you would prefer to fill this in later. A paper feedback form is also available on request.

Your form is anonymous, but every form is read by Alexis, the Sister in charge of the paediatric assessment unit.

If you are unhappy with any aspect of care or the paediatric assessment unit (PAU) environment please speak to the nurse in charge or ask to speak to the sister.

Should you wish to speak to a member of the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) team, please speak to a member of our ward staff who will be happy to either provide you with a leaflet or can arrange for someone from the team to come and see you.

You may contact the PALS team by telephone if you wish on freephone 0800 3287624 or 01473 704781. There is an answerphone and the staff will call you back at the earliest opportunity during working hours.

There are many reasons that a parent might decide not to continue to wait in the paediatric assessment unit (PAU). Please do come and talk to us and let someone from our team know if this is the case.

Please be aware that our staff cannot recommend that your child should go home instead of waiting to be seen by the doctor and that you will be asked to sign a form on the back of your child’s paperwork.