What to expect in German hospitals

What to expect in German hospitals

You will notice some differences between German hospitals and those in the UK.

Medical treatment
Patient support and medical staff
On the ward
Hospital facilities

This information is for patients from the Gütersloh or Paderborn areas. If your appointment is in another area of Germany, Belgium or Holland, please read our information for EJSU patients.

Medical treatment

Will the treatment be very different to the UK?

We work with our partner hospitals to ensure that the medical or clinical care you receive is comparable to NHS care. 

German clinicians' approach is considered to be more direct than their UK colleagues. They will make you aware of options available at an early stage.

German patients are less inhibited than British patients, and you will find there is less emphasis on privacy or chaperoning. In our partner hospitals, we try to ensure that for British patients they adopt British practice. If you would like extra privacy, such as a gown when you are asked to undress or a chaperone when an intimate examination is planned, you have the right to insist that these are provided. If you have any concerns at all, please contact your patient support officer. 

When will I receive medication?

All regular medication for each 24 hour period is provided once a day and the patient is responsible for taking each measured dose. This is different to the UK where the patients are brought their medication immediately before taking it. 

Will I get medication to take home when I am discharged?

In our partner hospitals, you will be given a ten day supply of medication to take home where necessary. If you need further medication, then contact your medical centre pharmacy when you get home.  

In a non-contract hospital, you will not be given any medication to take home, but you may get a prescription. You should take this to your local pharmacy as soon as possible. Please click here for further information.

Patient support and medical staff

I can't speak German, how will I communicate with staff?

If you have to go into hospital, bilingual patient support officers are available during office hours to answer any questions you have and liaise with healthcare professionals on your behalf to help you understand the treatment. 

If you need any assistance outside of office hours, you can access patient support via the hospital hotline 24/7 on 0800 588 99 36.

How often will nurses visit me?

The role of nurses is very different in German hospitals to those in the UK. British patients often expect to be visited regularly by a nurse. In Germany patients expect to be left alone unless they need a nurse. Nurses in German hospitals expect to be called when they are needed by a nurse call system that is next to each bed. British patients sometimes feel reluctant to call on a nurse this way, but they expect to be called, so please don't hesitate to use the call system if you need assistance. 

When will the patient support officer visit me?

In our partner hospitals the patient support officer will visit you daily during normal office hours. If you find yourself in a hospital other than one of our partner hospitals (a non-designated provider hospital), the patient support officer will contact you as soon as possible. Patient support officers also have an on-call service for evenings and weekends, you can contact them via the hospital hotline on 0800 588 99 36. 

On the ward

What are the wards like?

German hospitals are places of quiet and rest. The hospitals don't have outpatient departments (other than for BFG patients) so they appear to be much less busy than British hospitals. 

Once you get to the ward, you will notice an immediate difference to UK hospitals. Whereas most NHS wards are made up of eight bedded bays, in Germany patients are in rooms with two, three or four beds. Where possible, these rooms will have an en-suite toilet and shower room. 

The rooms are single sex, rather than mixed. Partner hospitals try to ensure that rooms are shared with other UK patients, but this is not always possible. Mobile curtains or screens are provided to ensure patient privacy and dignity. However, if you find that there are no screens or curtains, please contact your patient support officer. In non-contract hospitals, screens may not be provided.

What is the daily routine like in a German hospital?

The daily routine will vary depending on the hospital and ward. If you are in one of our partner hospitals, each ward should have a patient information folder on hospital routines and facilities. If there is not one available in your room, please contact the patient support officer.

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Hospital facilities and visiting

What is the food like?

Our partner hospitals do their best to offer food that you will enjoy and seek to provide British or international style food and a choice of menu. In Germany the main meal is taken in the middle of the day rather than in the evening. 

Most hospitals have leaflets on the ward or at reception for take away food orders. It is possible to have food of your choice delivered to the ward, however you will have to pay for this yourself. Please ask the staff or a patient support officer for more details.

What are the visiting hours?

Your family and friends can usually visit you as often and for as long as you like, that is if it does not interfere with your clinical care or that of other patients. Visitors are expected to respect staff and other patients. If possible, visitors should not arrive before 1000hrs or leave after 2000hrs. Patients are also encouraged to rest after lunch. 

There may be further restrictions on visiting in some specialist units, please check the visiting policy of your hospital with the patient support officer.  

Your friends and family are more than welcome to bring in fresh cut flowers for you, but potted plants are not allowed in hospital. 

Will there be a shop or anywhere to buy refreshments?

Each hospital has a shop where you will be able to buy a small range of goods. Some may also sell UK newspapers. Most hospitals also have cafes and vending machines.

Will I have access to telephones and television?

Each bed or room has a telephone facility. It is important to remember that patients are responsible for the costs of their telephone calls. The use and cost of the telephone will be explained to you on arrival. Public telephones are also available in the hospital. 

Ask the patient support officer about the mobile telephone policy in your hospital. 

Most rooms have televisions that are capable of transmitting at least one English speaking channel. 

Can I bring my Laptop and is there wireless access? 

You may bring your own laptop to use during your stay but please confirm with the ward staff regarding where to charge your device and if they have wireless access. 

Can I smoke in the hospital? 

No, smoking in the hospital is strictly forbidden, however most hospitals usually provide areas outside for smokers. Please ask the staff or patient support officer for details. 

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Related information

Find directions and contact details for your local hospital

Contact your medical centre

Hospital Handbook for Bielefeld

Hospital Handbook for Paderborn


At hospital and need emergency out of hours support?

Contact the hospital hotline on 0800 588 9936.

Access to patient support 24/7