What do we mean by referrals?
A referral is when your GP wants the help of a specialist to decide how best to treat you. Specialists can carry out tests and investigations that we cannot do in practice.
The Doctor will discuss the reasons for referring you and if you are happy to be referred, they will get in touch with the relevant specialists.
Booking your specialist appointment
In most cases, you will be able to choose which hospital you want to be seen at and which consultant you wish to see you. You can only select from hospitals and consultants that offer the service the GP is referring you for.
You can read more about hospital choice and consultant choice on the NHS website.
Depending on the specialist service and the hospital, there can be different ways to book an appointment.
- You may be able to book your appointment through the practice when you are here.
- The GP may give you an appointment request letter with details to book it yourself online or over the phone.
- The hospital may write to you with a proposed time and date, which you can confirm with them directly.
Can I ask to be referred or refer myself?
You are entitled to ask to be referred to a specialist service, but the GP will only do so if they think it is clinically necessary. Even a referral to a private specialist would need a referral letter from your GP, as they hold your health records and have the best understanding of your medical history and needs.
There are some NHS services that you can refer yourself to without needing to see a GP first. They include:
- Accident & Emergency. Find your nearest A&E. You should only ever go to A&E if it is a life-threatening emergency.
- Mental health services like counselling. Find an NHS psychological therapies service.
- Sexual health services. Find an NHS sexual health clinic.
- Tyneside Integrated Musculoskeletal Services (TIMS) is a joint Newcastle and Gateshead service that offers self-care and fast access to expert opinion, diagnosis and treatment of a variety of muscle, joint and soft tissue conditions and chronic pain.
- Oviva Tier 2 Weight Management is a free service to help people in Newcastle lose weight and build healthy habits through specialist support over 12 weeks.
- Some other services provided by our Primary Care Network colleagues.