Wellington > Public Hospital Services > Capital & Coast District Health Board (CCDHB) >

Capital & Coast DHB Preparing for Your Surgery

Public Service


Elective surgery involves three stages once the decision to operate has been made at a surgical outpatient appointment; pre anaesthesia assessment and preparation, the surgery itself and postoperative care.

Our staff will help prepare you for your surgery and will provide you with a professional level of care before, during and after your operation.


Pre Anaesthesia Assessment

Once you and your surgeon decide on surgery you will be asked to complete a Patient Health Questionnaire. This will be screened to decide on what type of appointment you will require. It is important that you complete and return this questionnaire as soon as possible.

You may be asked to attend an anaesthetic appointment or be available to talk on the phone. Make sure we have your correct address as we will let you know when this appointment will be in a letter in the post. This appointment is where we assess whether you are fit enough to have an operation, any preparation that may need to be done, and how long you will need to stay in hospital.

You may see a Specialist Anaesthetist, Medical Officer or a Nurse depending on your overall health and the type of operation you are having. This will also reflect the amount of time your appointment will take.  Some operations may require you to stay in the anaesthetic clinic for most of the day; this allows you plenty of time to ask questions and us to ensure we are well prepared for your operation.

At your appointment, we will:

  • ask you about your health and medical history 
  • check your pulse and blood pressure 
  • weigh you and measure your height 
  • arrange any blood, heart tracing (ECG) or other tests as needed
  • answer any questions you may have about your operation and anaesthetic
  • arrange any support services you may require.

You may be given patient information about your operation. In some cases we will be able to give you  a date for your surgery. This will often be arranged later on, with confirmation sent in the post. 

If you are having surgery at Wellington Hospital you will be contacted by the hospital between 2 - 4pm the day before your surgery for a final check and instructions. If your surgery is on a Monday you will be contacted on the Friday before.  Phone (04) 806 0962 if you have not heard from the hospital by 4pm.

If you are having surgery at Kenepuru Hospital you will be contacted by the hospital between 1.30 - 3.30pm the day before your surgery. Phone (04) 385 5999 Extension 2901 if you have not heard from the hospital by 3:30pm.

Make sure you can be reached by phone.


It is very important that you follow the instructions provided to you. Eating or drinking before your surgery can cause delay or even cancellation of your surgery. This is a safety precaution to ensure that there is a very low risk of you vomiting or regurgitating stomach contents whilst under anaesthetic. This can potentially damage your lungs. 

Surgical Admissions

Usually you will arrive at Surgical Admissions several hours before your operation is scheduled. This allows the staff time to ensure all of your paper work is completed and correct. Your surgery will be in the order of a list, not on a first come first serve basis.  In the unlikely event we need to perform emergency surgery on another patient or the operation before yours takes longer than expected, your operation may be delayed or may need to be postponed to another date.

Your safety is our highest priority, so we will not start your operation unless we have ample time, equipment and appropriately skilled staff available. We appreciate that having your operation delayed or postponed is frustrating, as you will likely be struggling with a disability and have made many arrangements. 

Once you have checked in at reception, you will be asked to fill in a personal information form (PIF). A surgeon and anaesthetist will usually come and see you, and will give you a request and consent form to read and sign. A nurse will then use a checklist to ensure you are well prepared and will be available for any further questions. If you or your child is a female between the ages of 11 to 60 we will ask if there is any chance you could be pregnant, and when your last menstrual period was.  If there is any doubt we will ask you to provide a urine sample so we can check. After this we will ask that you wait in the lounge area until you are called to go into the operating theatre.

Once we are ready to bring you into the theatre, you will be changed into a gown, paper underpants, socks and hat, and a warm dressing gown.  If you are comfortable walking, a nurse will escort you into the operating theatre. Please let the nurses know if you would prefer to be wheeled in on a bed or wheelchair.

There will be a lot of staff in the theatre who all have different jobs to do. Once you are on the operating table, the staff in the theatre will perform some safety procedures which will involve asking you your name and date of birth, what operation is planned, if all the needed equipment is present, and if blood for transfusion or breathing difficulty is expected. While many of these questions may have already been asked before you enter the theatre, we ask them again as a final check for your safety.

Do not be alarmed that you will be asked a lot of the same questions by several different staff, this is to ensure your safety.



Listed below are different types of anaesthetic. You can discuss these options and any preferences you may have with your anaesthetist.

  • LOCAL: a local anaesthetic numbs the part of your body being operated on with an injection to prevent you feeling pain. A local anaesthetic is often used for small, less extensive procedures.

With a local anaesthetic you remain awake for the operation and free from pain.

  • REGIONAL: an injection is used to numb the nerve pathways on the part of your body being operated on. It is often used for surgery on the hand, arm, knee etc. A larger section of your body can also be numbed this way, using an epidural or spinal anaesthetic. You may receive medication to make you feel relaxed and sleepy.

With a regional anaesthetic you may remain awake for the operation and will be free from pain.

  • GENERAL: an anaesthetic is injected into a vein or anaesthetic gases breathed into the lungs and your whole body is put to sleep. You may have a tube in your mouth and throat when you are asleep to help you breathe.

With general anaesthetic, you are asleep and feel nothing.

Anaesthetists are highly trained doctors. They will meet with you before your operation to discuss the best anaesthetic for your needs and then they will stay with you constantly throughout the operation. Their sole role is to look after you.



Immediately after your surgery, if you were anaesthetised or sedated you will be taken to a Post Anaesthesia Care Unit (also known as the Recovery Room) where you will receive care while waking up from your anaesthetic. The nurses in this area are specially trained to ensure you are kept safe and comfortable as the anaesthetic wears off.


Family members or friends are not usually permitted in recovery; however the nurse taking care of you after your surgery or your surgeon will notify your family or significant other of your progress.

 Going home

If you are to stay overnight or longer, you will be moved from the recovery area directly to your room/ward where your family or significant other can rejoin you.

If you are to go home the same day, you will be taken to second stage recovery from the Recovery Room, where you will rest for a few hours before going home.

You will be given a pamphlet that describes what you can expect as you recover at home, and what you should do if you have concerns.  You may also be given a prescription you will need to take to a pharmacy.  Most operations will require you take some time off school or work, so please ask one of the nurses if you require a medical certificate.

The effects of anaesthesia can last for some time. You may be drowsy for a while after your operation.

You MUST have someone drive you home and stay with you for the 24 hours after your operation. You must also have access to a working telephone.

You MUST NOT drive a car, drink alcohol, use dangerous machinery/equipment (including cooking) or sign any important documents for 24 hours after an anaesthetic.

If you have an increase in pain or are feeling sick when you get home please contact the hospital for advice.

Procedures / Treatments

Document Downloads


All main meals and light refreshments are supplied to patients free of charge.  Please inform the nursing staff when you have your Pre Anaesthesia Appointment if you have special dietary requirements.

Wellington Hospital has two cafés and a coffee bar which cater for visitors, patients and staff.

  • Wishbone (in the main atrium) is open from 7am to 9pm on week days and 9am to 4.30pm on weekends and public holidays.
  • Fuel Espresso Bar (on the main corridor of Level 3, Clinical Services Block) is open from 7.00am to 5.00pm on week days.
  • The Campus Café (Level D, School of Medicine) is open Monday to Friday from 7.30am to 4.15pm.

Travel Directions

Click here for directions to the Kenepuru Community Hospital

Click here for directions to the Wellington Regional Hospital

Public Transport

A number of bus services (including bus routes 1, 3, 10, 11, 18, 22, 23, 42, 43/44, 83) pass by the main entrance of Wellington Hospital in Riddiford Street, Newtown. Details of times and bus numbers are available by calling Metlink on 0800 801 7000. Taxis are available from the front of the hospital on Riddiford Street. A free shuttle for patients also runs between Wellington and Kenepuru Hospitals. To book, please call Kenepuru Orderlies on (04) 385 5999 ext 7100.


Entry and exit to the underground car park is via the Riddiford Street entrance to the Wellington Regional Hospital. Charges are posted at the entrance and must be paid prior to exit at any of the automatic payment machines located in the lift foyers. If you need to visit the hospital often, and have difficulties paying for parking, please see the Charge Nurse or Team Leader in the department you are visiting, as you may be eligible for discounted car parking.

The Kenepuru campus offers free car parking, situated at the hospital main entrance.

Please remember you will not be able to drive your car for 24 hours after your surgery.

Contact Details

Pre Anaesthesia Assessment Clinic (04) 806 0364 or paac@ccdhb.org.nz

Surgical Admissions Unit (04) 806 0962 during office hours (Monday to Friday 7.00am -5.00pm), or surgical.admissions@ccdhb.org.nz

After Hours: Second Stage Recovery (04) 806 0980 (Monday after 5.00pm to Saturday 2.30pm).

Wellington Hospital
Riddiford Street
Wellington 6021

Information about this location

View on Google Maps

Get directions

Street Address

Wellington Hospital
Riddiford Street
Wellington 6021

Postal Address

Wellington Hospital
Private Bag 7902
Wellington South

This page was last updated at 11:40AM on June 17, 2019. This information is reviewed and edited by Capital & Coast DHB Preparing for Your Surgery.