Understanding your specialist referral options
Written by Navy Health and HealthShare
When writing a referral, your GP will always have well-considered reasons for recommending a selected specialist. However, we often have our own personal preferences and priorities, contributing to our feelings of comfort and confidence. You may wish to avoid an anxious wait for the first specialist appointment and therefore prioritise immediate availability, where for others, location, cost, or a personal recommendation from a trusted friend or family member might be important factors.
Most people don’t realise it, but you have the right to take your referral to a specialist of your choice. Here’s a quick look at your options for using a referral.
- Request an open referral from your GP
The Department of Human Services set the guidelines for specialist referrals. Your GP must include relevant information such as the reason for referral, date of referral and their signature; however, the Department of Human Services states that “Referrals don’t need to be made out to a specific specialist or consultant physician”.
This is known as an ‘open referral’ which you may request from your GP, and it means that your referral can be presented to any specialist you choose, as long as they’re in the referred specialty field.
- Taking a named specialist referral to a different specialist of your choice
This choice also extends to named referrals. According to The Department of Human Services, “Referrers should let patients choose where to present the referral”. You are entitled to present the named specialist referral to another specialist of your choice at any time within 12 months – so long as you have not attended an initial consultation with another specialist under that referral, and your chosen specialist is within the same specialty.
In this case, it’s a good idea to call ahead and speak to the receptionist, practice manager or specialist. Just let them know that your referral is for another specialist, but you wish to make an appointment with them. There is no need to get a new referral from your GP, and while you may want to advise your GP, it is not necessary to do so.
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