What we do
The Childrens Observation and Assessment Unit (COAU) provides a 24 hour service to children from birth to 16 years old who have been referred by their GP, the Emergency Department, the Urgent Care Centre, walk-in centres, health visitors, midwives or social services for a second opinion or for a period of observation.
The unit has 10 bed/cot spaces and 3 cubicles. There are two assessment rooms, a small waiting room and two small play areas.
How to access the service
You can be referred to the service by your GP, the Emergency Department, the Urgent Care Centre, Walk-in Centres, Health Visitors, Midwives or Social Services
Where to find us
COAU is located on the second floor opposite Day Surgery. COAU can be accessed from the main visitor car park by following the signs for Day Surgery, or from the main entrance via the stairs/lift on the right before the shopping area. COAU is signposted from the top of the stairs. On arrival you will need to press the buzzer on the metal box to gain access.
Helen Lockyer - Matron
The service accepts referrals 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Visiting times are open with a maximum of three vistors to a bed at any one time.
On arrival your child will firstly be assessed by a trained children’s nurse who will complete a nursing assessment, perform a set of observations and possibly some tests. Your child will then be seen by a doctor who will make decisions about what further tests / investigations may be required. This may be tests such as x-rays and blood tests. Your child may need a period of observation and this may be for several hours to see if their condition improves; where possible we aim to get children home.
All children are seen in the order in which they arrive unless there is a sick child and these children will then take priority. The staff will keep you updated as to waiting times.
Whilst on the unit your child will be given drinks and light snacks.
If your child needs to stay in hospital overnight for treatment or observation your child will be transferred to the children’s inpatient ward. One parent or carer over 18 years will be able to stay with your child.
If your child is discharged from COAU the doctor and nurse will explain to you how to look after your child at home, how to give any medication he/ she may need and what signs to look out for which mean he/she may need to come back to see the doctor again. All children on discharge are given 24 hour open access to return to COAU - if you are worried or concerned about your child when you return home you will be able to telephone to discuss your concerns and bring your child back to COAU if necessary. A referral may be made to the childrens community nurses to see your child at home. This will be discussed with you prior to discharge.
You will need to bring
Your child’s Red Book (if applicable)
Any medication your child is taking
Nappies and wipes
Dummy and child’s bottle / feeder cup
Favourite toys or teddies
Formula milk – we have a limited selection of formula milks.
Facilities for parents
There is a cafe by the main entrance, WH Smith sells snacks and sandwiches and there is a hospital restaurant for meals and refreshments for other members of the family.
There is a 10 minute drop off area at the main entrance and a 20 minute drop off area outside the entrance to COAU. Longer stay parking is on the main visitor car park. A ticket is issued on entry to the car park and payment is made on leaving. Pay machines are located at the main entrance. If your child is admitted for more than three days reduced car parking fees apply – you will need to keep your previous day’s car parking receipts. Please speak to member of staff or the car parking office located near the main entrance.
If you have any concerns or issues before, during or after your child’s stay in COAU please do not hesitate to speak to a member of staff.