Advancing paediatric surgery through education and research


What is a paediatric surgeon?

Paediatric surgery is the surgery of children. Many surgical specialities involve children but the term Paediatric Surgeon is used to describe a general surgeon (rather than an ENT, orthopaedic surgeon etc) who treats children. There are two recognised type of paediatric surgeons, specialist paediatric surgeons and general paediatric surgeons

Specialist paediatric surgeon

This is someone who only treats children. Such surgeons are generally based in large regional hospitals or children’s hospitals. They will have had at least 6 years training in the surgery of children. Although some of their work is the minor surgery of children (eg hernia repair, surgery for undescended testis, appendicitis etc) their main role is in the complex surgery of the newborn (neonatal surgery), major surgical diseases of children and surgery in children with complex medical disorders. These surgeons work with specialist paediatric anaesthetists and nurses

General paediatric surgeon

This is the term used to describe an adult general surgeon who treats children. Most adult surgeons do not treat children but in each District General Hospital there should be one or more general surgeon who treats the common minor surgical problems in children. Ideally such surgeons will have had at least 6 months training in a specialist paediatric surgical centre. They should provide dedicated children’s facilities for day surgery and work closely with medical paediatricians.

Should my child see a specialist or general paediatric surgeon?

This depends on your child’s problem. Most common problems can be dealt with by a general paediatric surgeon.

Who decides if my child sees a general or specialist paediatric surgeon?

This is usually decided by your GP or paediatrician, whoever makes the decision that referral to a surgeon is necessary.

What is a paediatric urologist?

Some specialist paediatric surgeons have chosen to sub-specialise in paediatric urology. Their training will be mostly as for specialist paediatric surgeons but in addition they will have spent time training in paediatric urology. They are involved in managing complex genitourinary problems in children. In most specialist paediatric surgery departments there will be one or more specialist paediatric urologists or specialist paediatric surgeons who devote most of their time to urology
In some District General Hospitals adult urologists also treat the common surgical problems in children (eg foreskin problems, undescended testis etc) as described for general paediatric surgeons (above).

How can I arrange for my child to see a paediatric surgeon?

You should consult your GP about your child’s problem. If you GP agrees referral is necessary your child will be referred to either a general or specialist peaditric surgeon, whichever your GP feels is necessary.

What other surgeons treat children?

There are many branches of surgery that treat children. These include Ear, Nose and Throat Surgery (ENT), orthopaedic surgery, plastic surgery, cardiac surgery, neurosurgery and ophthalmic surgery. Cardiac surgery, plastic surgery and neurosurgery are always based a large regional hospitals or children’s hospitals and within those departments there are surgeons who treat mostly or only children. ENT and orthopaedic surgery takes place at District General Hospitals as well as at specialist centres. In most hospitals surgeons in these specialities will treat both adults and children but in many regional hospitals and children’s hospitals there will be surgeons who exclusively treat children (eg Paediatric orthopaedic surgeons).

My child has a disability. Where can I get help?

Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
 is the main benefit for children and adults with a condition or disability. Check the government website for up to date information about DLA
Contact a Family (below) also has excellent information regarding DLA and a free telephone helpline.

Contact a Family

Contact a Family is a UK-wide charity providing advice, information and support to the parents of all disabled children. It also has a free telephone helpline.

The Family Fund

The Family Fund helps families with disabled children to have choices and the opportunity to enjoy ordinary life.
They give grants for things that make life easier and more enjoyable for the disabled child and their family, such as washing machines, driving lessons, hospital visiting costs, computers and holidays.

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