Temporary changes to children’s and young peoples services at the Royal Free Ѽ

24 September 2020

To ensure the NHS can continue to deliver the best emergency and planned care across north central London during the winter and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the children and young person’s emergency department at the Royal Free Ѽ will be closed until further notice.

This decision follows a review of children and young people’s health services across the region.

The closure will come into effect from 28 September. If your child needs emergency care, please take them to a hospital with a children and young people’s emergency department such as:

  • Barnet Ѽ, Wellhouse Lane, EN5 3DJ
  • , Sterling Way, N18 1QX
  • , Magdala Avenue, N19 5NF
  • , Praed Street, W2 1NY

The children and young people’s emergency department at University College Ѽ will also be temporarily closed.

If you or your child needs urgent medical help or advice, and the situation is not life threatening, visit or call NHS 111 to find out where your nearest service is located.

At the Royal Free Ѽ children and young people’s in-patient services are also temporarily closing. Maternity and neonatal services at Barnet Ѽ and the Royal Free Ѽ are not affected by these changes.

Child and adolescent mental health services, including the eating disorders service, at the Royal Free Ѽ will continue as normal.

Your questions answered

Can I take my teenager to be treated in the adult emergency department (ED) at the Royal Free Ѽ?

The adult ED at the RFH will treat patients aged 18 and over. Anyone who is 17 or younger attend a hospital with a children’s ED such as Barnet Ѽ or the Whittington Ѽ.

If I am unwell and need to attend the adult emergency department (ED) can I bring my child with me?

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we are trying to limit the number of people attending our hospitals, this includes children. If you need to attend the emergency department because you are injured or unwell, we would ask you to find alternative childcare arrangements if possible.

If no alternatives can be found, you are permitted to bring a child with you to the adult ED but you will need to remain responsible for them throughout your time in the hospital.

If your child (someone under the age of 18) needs emergency care, please take them to a hospital with a children’s emergency department such as the Whittington Ѽ, Barnet Ѽ, North Middlesex University Ѽ, St Mary’s Ѽ or the Royal London Ѽ.

Will an ambulance take my child to the RFH?

London Ambulance Service has been informed of the changes, so they will not bring any one under the age of 18 to the Royal Free Ѽ for emergency treatment. They will take children and young people to the most appropriate alternative location.

My child has a planned out-patient appointment (including for the child and adolescent mental health service) coming up - what should I do/who should I contact?

All out-patient children’s and young people’s services at the Royal Free Ѽ, including the child and adolescent mental health service, will continue as normal so you and your child should attend the appointment as normal.

I’ve been waiting for an operation for my child; will this mean I need to go somewhere else? Where? When will I be told?

If you are waiting for an out-patient procedure some of these will continue as normal at the Royal Free Ѽ, we will contact you to make arrangements.

The Royal Free Ѽ has temporarily closed all in-patient children’s services. So if you have an appointment for a surgical procedure or a procedure/programme of care which requires an overnight hospital stay, you will be contacted with further information about where the procedure will take place.

My child attends the eating disorder service - what does this mean for them?

The eating disorder service at Queen Mary’s House will continue as normal, so there will be no change to the care your child receives.

What happens if a child who is seriously unwell is taken to the Royal Free Ѽ?

If a child or young person arrives at the Royal Free Ѽ and they need life-saving treatment, they will be treated and stabilised to make sure they are safe at the Royal Free Ѽ. Children who do not need urgent, life-saving care will be redirected to a nearby hospital with a children’s emergency department, such as the Whittington Ѽ.

Are maternity and neonatal services affected by these changes?

Maternity and neonatal services at the Royal Free Ѽ and at Barnet Ѽ are not affected by these changes and will continue as normal.