If you are going to the Emergency Department at one of the Children’s Hospitals, Urgent Care Centres or at your regional hospital, the following tips will help you prepare and know what to expect.

Going to the Emergency Department

Urgent Care, Injury Centre or Emergency Department – What’s the difference?

There are different options available for illness and injury depending on your baby or child’s age and how serious the illness or injury is. Emergency Departments can be very busy with long waiting times if an illness/injury is not serious or life-threatening. The information below explains the options available for your baby or child.

Injury Units/Urgent Care Centres treat injuries that probably won’t need hospital admission and are not life-threatening but can’t wait for a doctors appointment. For example, broken bones, dislocated limbs, sprains and minor burns. Injury Centres are not as busy as the Emergency Department so you might not have to wait as long.

Most Injury Units/Urgent Care Centres are open Monday to Sunday but make sure to check the opening hours in the link below as many will not be open after 6pm or 7pm

Each centre has different rules for the ages of children they provide services to, and some are adult only, so make sure to check on the link below. They do not see children under 3.

There is no charge if you have a referral from a GP or from an Emergency Department, or if you have a medical card. Otherwise it costs €75 to attend an injury unit.

The link below provides more information about what injuries the Unit/Centre will or will not treat, or if you should go to the Emergency Department.
Find out what injury units can and cannot treat.

Check the link below to find your closest injury unit and opening hours – make sure to check the ages as some injury units only see adults or will only see children over certain ages.
Find an injury unit near you

The Urgent Care Clinic (UCC) at CHI Connolly in Dublin is a special injury unit, just for babies over 12 weeks, and children up to age 16. The UCC treats minor injuries and illnesses that are not life-threatening and do not require a visit to the Emergency Department (ED). The UCC is appointment only. The UCC treats:

  • Sprains, strains and broken bones
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Minor burns and scalds
  • Small cuts and injuries
  • Mild asthma

The UCC is open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm, Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays 10am-5pm. It is important to phone and make an appointment in advance.

For more information or to book an appointment, follow the link below:
CHI at Connolly | Children’s Health Ireland (childrenshealthireland.ie)

Emergency departments (EDs) are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The ED treats serious and life threatening illness.

Call 112 or 999 for an ambulance if: your baby or child is seriously ill or injured, and their life is at risk.

Some EDs in Dublin only see adults (16 and over) and some only see babies and children up to 16 . Outside of Dublin, babies and children can go to any ED.

The Children’s Emergency Departments in Dublin are located in CHI in Crumlin, Temple Street and Tallaght. Follow the link for more information information: Emergency department | Children’s Health Ireland (childrenshealthireland.ie). The emergency departments in CHI hospitals see all children from 0 to the eve of their 16th birthday.

Follow this link to find your closest emergency department Emergency departments – HSE.ie

There is no charge if you have a full medical card for your child or have a referral letter from a GP. Otherwise it costs €100 to attend an ED.

Emergency departments are busy. You may have to wait a long time to be seen. The sickest people are seen first. For injuries that are not life threatening such as a broken bone or minor burn, an Injury Unit may be an option.



What to bring with you to the Emergency Department

  • Bring any medical records, medical card or private health insurance information that you might need.

  • Bring any medications that your child is currently taking – tell the nurse if your child is due medication while waiting to be seen.

  • Bring snacks and drinks – There can be long waiting times in the emergency department. Depending on the reason for being in the emergency department you might need to check with the nurse before giving your child snacks.

  • Bring comfort and distraction items such as a soother, favourite blanket, small toys, colouring books or mobile devices.

  • Bring a phone charger and change for vending machines and parking.

  • If you think your child may be admitted bring supplies for an overnight stay for you and your baby or child.

  • Do not bring valuables with you.

What to expect in the Emergency Department

The first person your child will see is the Triage Nurse. The Triage Nurse checks each patient’s condition, prioritises them in the order of their medical urgency and sends them to the most appropriate assessment and treatment area. Every effort is made to keeping waiting times short and they will try to give you updates as often as possible. If you think that your child’s condition is worsening and he or she needs immediate care, please let a nurse know.

The staff at the registration desk will obtain basic information from you and about your child. This will include names, dates of birth, contact information and address etc. An identification bracelet will be placed on your baby or child’s wrist or ankle.

Depending on how serious your child’s medical emergency is you may be brought straight for treatment or you may be asked to take a seat in the waiting room and your child will be seen by one of the doctors as soon as possible. Sometimes there can be long waits in the Emergency Department.

You should check with a member of staff before providing your child with drinks or snacks.

Tell a member of staff if you are worried about your child or if they seem to be getting worse.

Once you and your child are taken to a treatment room, a nurse will take your child’s medical history and answer any questions. Soon after, your child will be seen by a doctor. They will determine the treatment plan for your child. If necessary, blood work and other tests such as x-rays might also be performed.

Going Home:  When your child is ready to go home, the Emergency Department doctor will provide a copy of the treatment plan, any prescriptions, and will let you know if you need to make an appointment for follow-up care.


Hospital Admission. The doctor might decide your baby or child needs to be admitted to hospital for observation or treatment. In some situations they may be transferred to another hospital such as the Children’s Hospitals. You can visit our “Hospital Admissions” section for more information about what to expect.

Tips to support children with sensory difficulties or additional needs in the Emergency Department

Healthcare settings such as the Emergency Department can be overwhelming for children with sensory challenges or additional needs.
Here are some tips to help make your next trip easier!

  • Tell the staff in emergency about your child’s needs or any difficulties they are experiencing. Don’t be afraid to tell them what you need to make your wait go as smoothly as possible.

  • Ask if a second parent or extra support person is allowed attend.

  • Ask if there is a sensory room or a quiet space available.

  • Ask the doctor or nurse to explain or demonstrate the steps of the procedure they propose to do, before they do it, especially things that involve touch, so that your child is prepared.


Distraction and sensory management tips

If you already have things like headphones, sunglasses or fidgets, they can be useful for helping your child manage their sensory needs. Easy and affordable options include sunglasses from a pound shop, pipe cleaners that can be bent and twisted for a fidget, and noise dampening headphones from hardware shops.

Mindfulness strategies can help to calm and refocus our sensory systems when they are overwhelmed. There are lots of different types of mindfulness activities and different activities may work best for different people.

An easy mindfulness activity that can be done anywhere is called the 5-4-3-2-1 senses activity. Try to focus on finding or noticing the following things:

5 things you can see or 4 things you can hear or 3 things you can touch or feel or 2 things you can smell or 1 thing you can taste

Parent Tip: Don’t ever be afraid to ask for what you and your child needs or to tell staff if you have concerns!

Being prepared for an emergency…

Tips to help you be prepared for a trip to the Emergency Department

Some children with complex or serious healthcare needs have frequent or unexpected trips to the emergency department. It can be helpful for families to be prepared for these trips to the emergency department. Here are a few tips that might make it a little easier.

  • Make a checklist of everything you need to bring with you if you have to bring your child to an emergency department and keep it somewhere easy to find. Include things like your child’s care notes/health passport, medications, equipment they might need and essential supplies.

  • Pack a “go bag” for yourself and your child. Keep this bag somewhere that you can grab it and go. A go bag will hold your toothbrush, personal items, comfortable clothes, a book or something to read, and maybe some snacks or change for vending machines. For your child, you’ll want to include some comfort items, like a favorite toy or a movie to watch, and a toothbrush. See our list below for other items you should bring with you.

  • Have an emergency plan for who you can call to take care of your other children, your house, or pets in an emergency. It helps to talk with a few people ahead of time and ask them if they can help out if you need them.

  • Keep a list of important information such as your child’s medical history, medications, allergies, and emergency contact information in one place. It can be useful to create a Health Passport that contains all of this information in one place. Mercy Hospital Cork has created a personal health passport for children.

  • If your child has complex medical needs, ask a consultant or your GP to write a letter that details their condition. You can give it to staff in the emergency department.

Feedback and Complaints

Why is it important to provide feedback and make complaints?

In addition to addressing your immediate concerns, providing good or bad feedback to hospitals plays an important role in quality improvement and helps to identify issues that are being experienced by families and patients.

Feedback and complaints about a public emergency department can be made to the hospital complaints officer or to the HSE My Service My Say program.
Visit our information page below for more details about how to make a complaint.

Hospital Feedback and Complaints