What are referrals?

Referrals to put it simply are letters from a general practice, to the hospital. They include some relevant information about your condition, and ask the consultant or other specialist for advice or further management.


A referral can be for anyone who needs care from a hospital. There is an increasing number of conditions which general practice manages – either by GPs, or by other specialists such as physiotherapists or mental health specialists who work in general practice too.

Referrals are made based on clinical need. There are often guidelines on conditions that you need to meet ahead of making a referral . This reduces the risk of the referral being rejected.


There are some referrals that you can make yourself such as counselling or stopping smoking services. For a referral to a hospital you’ll usually need to see a GP. They will determine your provisional diagnosis or arrange some initial tests.

There is also a new system, Patient Choice. This allows you to look at different options of where you go, based on the provider, distance and wait. We will then make a referral.

  1. The referral is appropriate
  2. If the severity of the referral is correct

This may mean that your referral downgrades from urgent to routine. The hospital will inform you of this, and if you feel as if this is not correct and that you need to be seen on a urgent basis, you can go about this in a couple of different ways. You can speak to the hospital and explain to the admin staff the severity of your case. They may forward this feedback to the consultant or they may ask you to speak to us. 

 I want a private referral

This can definitely happen, we will need a couple of things from you such as what the issue is and which consultant and department you would like to go to. It can take up to 48 hours for you to receive this, and we will need your email address. They may come back and ask to provide more information about your case and we will be happy to look into this for you

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