The child assessment unit (CAU) is situated in the main building of East Surrey Hospital, adjacent to Outwood Ward. Most GP and emergency referrals are seen there by dedicated nursing and medical staff and can be assessed, treated and observed on the unit for up to 16 hours. The unit is also used for some planned day case work including paediatric investigations such as endocrine tests, bladder imaging and paediatric phlebotomy.

Many children will need to be seen acutely, but for others who need an urgent but not immediate review, it may be appropriate for the child to come the next day or be seen in the Rapid Access Clinic. This can be discussed and agreed with the doctor taking the referral.

If a child sounds unstable, the paediatrician will ask you to call an ambulance and the paediatric team will see the child on their arrival in the emergency department.


Young patients are referred either from East Surrey Hospital’s emergency department, Horsham Hospital walk-in centre, Crawley Hospital’s urgent treatment centre or via their GP. Referrals to CAU also come from community nurses, midwives and tertiary hospitals.

Passport patients can self-refer. These are children with chronic illnesses who need emergency treatment, which means they can by-pass the Emergency Department and come straight to the CAU when it is open.

Contacts for GPs

GPs can ask consultants for advice and refer patients to the CAU:

  • During working hours (9am-5pm on weekdays): Phone 01737 768 511 
  • Out of hours, phone 01737 768 511 and ask for the on-call paediatric registrar

Children are referred to the CAU with acute medical conditions, such as asthma and diabetes, where they can be assessed in a child-friendly environment by paediatric nurses and doctors. If needed, they can have a period of observation without having to be admitted to the children’s ward.

The CAU is open every day, with referrals accepted between 7.30am to 8pm.

The CAU offers an outreach service to the emergency department and, if necessary, will stabilise patients there before transferring them to the CAU or Outwood Ward. The on-call paediatric team will see paediatric referrals in the Emergency Department if the CAU is not open.

Children over five will be seen by general surgeons who will come to the CAU. Children under five are seen by the paediatric team. Children under five needing emergency surgery are transferred to a paediatric surgical centre, usually the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, Brighton or St George’s Hospital, Tooting.

Emergency surgery for surgical specialities are referred to the on-call consultants for that speciality.

We also run outpatient blood testing slots for children under 10, from Monday to Friday.

This service is strictly by appointment only. There is usually a weeks wait for phlebotomy appointments at CAU.

Patients can call the department to book the blood tests Monday to Friday, 8:30am – 11:30am.

Children aged 10 years and over can attend the walk-in service in main phlebotomy.

To book an appointment, please ring 01737 768511 x 2866/2865.