Considering how much time my family spends in the Royal Free (such a shame you can’t get frequent  flyer miles on the NHS), I should have known better than to turn up at A&E last week with just my laptop, a book and a bag of snacks from M&S (conveniently next door to the hospital).

Seven hours later I had eaten all my snacks, finished Grazia, & Private Eye, written 2000 words before my battery died, and was steaming towards the final chapter of the slab-like Marian Keyes I had grabbed from lil’sis’s shelf on the way out the door.

What I should have done was brought a little overnight bag just in case. Thing is, I was playing that stupid game –the ‘if I don’t come prepared then I’m not really ill & they won’t need to admit me’ game. Hah. More fool me.

Anyway, they did admit me, and lil’sis brought me a bag of stuff for my stay on a glam NHS ward.

First off you need at least 2 x nightwear. Most practical are PJs, but I get too hot on the ward, so I bring a nightshirt. Shirt not nightie. There aren’t enough hot doctors about to justify flashing your chest at the rest of the long-suffering ward each time you wriggle about in bed. And you need a change because you will spill food down your front at some point if you take three meals a day in bed. (Or is that just me?)

Clean underwear. Lots of it.

Flips flops not slippers. You aren’t going anywhere except the bathroom, and hospitals are germ ridden places. You don’t want your pretty slippers harbouring all manner of nasties. And you can shower in flip flops – if you are being treated on the NHS, then you will be on a ward and sharing a bathroom.

A shawl
is great for wrapping around your shoulders if you get cold at night, it hides your modesty if you have visitors, and I also use it as a top blanket to cheer up my NHS regulation linen.

More reading matter then you could possibly need. You will read it all. And more.

They are supplied but, as on a plane, it’s much nicer to have your own to use the TV bedside TV sets. Noise cancelling ones are the way forward because you’ll be desperate to drown out the conversation around you, which goes on 24/7.

with whatever you usually use. Most important: toothbrush & hairbrush.

Heavy duty moisturiser: it’s always too hot on the wards and your skin dries out.

Lots of snacks:
they feed you at really odd times, the food is often revolting and they always run out of the one edible-sounding dish. And when you are ill, food becomes very important psychologically.

Phone charger:
it costs a fortune to use the bedside ward phones, and no one seems to mind you using a cell these days

A pen
for filling in your lunch forms and doing the crossword

Small amount of cash to buy TV cards, newspapers from the trolley etc

And that’s it. Anything else is a bonus. (iPod, laptop, notepad, nice things to drink. More snacks.)

Photo credits:
Washbag: ESPA
Book: lovely present from MTFF
Hairbrush: Mason Pearson
Skincare: NUDE

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that garrison keillor book is terrific and definitely makes you forget, even for a moment, that you’re in such a mundane place.

love this post, llg!

sylvie of silver lining


Good luck with your short stay at the hospital. I wish you the best of luck and a speedy recovery. Steve


@Steve Tang Thank you very, very much xx
@Sylvie I can’t wait to read it! @mtff sent it to me as a get well gift, so lovely of her. xx


Bugger. I too was hoping they’d just say you had a nasty sniffle and that you could go home. Thank you for the twitup by the way! Much appreciated. Have you got enough books? If you want me to send you something let me know which ward you are on, if they keep you for a few days and I will send something.xx


@katyboo I’m at home now – I wrote this after last week, but still on bed rest etc which is v dull. Fortunately I went to Mama’s at the weekend and stole lots of her books! Thank you so much for offering darling. xx

@charlie Such a lovely part of London! My flat’s near there too. xx

@enc I hope not! xx


or you bettrer re-read Nancy Mitford.(Great washbag)


@Laura Nancy Mitford is always suitable reading! Isn’t the bag great? I love it too x


Thank you for this – so sorry to hear you’ve been unwell. I’m about to embark on a week’s stay in St Guys for an operation soon so this list has come in very handy – have started to prepare my bag now so I’m ready to run when they call!

Get well soon



@Kirsty Good luck w/ your operation my dear! I shld have added tissues to the list too xx


I feel your pain and well remember a 5-day hospital stay of my own with the NHS. The psychological importance of being able to wash your hair and clean your teeth cannot be overstated. My darling ma would bring me cheese, marmite and cress sandwiches each day, lovingly made because she’d convinced herself I loved this combination. After a few days I had to ask her to stop with the cress! But I’ll never forget her washing my hair for me when I was finally able to get out of bed, as I sat on a stool in the shower cubicle. It was probably one of the most important mother-daughter bonding sessions of my life. Get better soon and stay strong. Thanks for such a considerate post.


Great idea to wear flip flops in the shared shower hope you are on the mend


Thank you for the object lesson in preparedness. I hope I never need it.


Dear LLG, sorry to learn you have been ill, this list is great, very well thought out, hope you won’t need to be prepared in this way again. Best wishes Blighty


What a fab list. Am def. filing away for my next hospital stay! Get well soon! FFF x

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