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What do I need to know about what is written on my referral letter?

OSHCstudents – If you need to see a specialist, your GP will give you a referral. So what should you know about the information on your referral letter?

See more: Why are specialist referrals important?

Knowledge is power
Your GP can provide your specialist(s) with the right background information about your health condition and updates. This helps them better understand your needs and coordinate your treatment plan. Keeping the lines of communication open is especially important if you have multiple specialist(s) treating you with your GP.

1. Your referral letter does not have to be addressed to a named specialist

The letter could be addressed to a named specialist or to a specialist type. (e.g. “Dear Cardiologist”). This gives you the flexibility to investigate which specialist might suit you best, without having to keep going back to your referring doctor.

2. How long your referral letter stays valid depends on who wrote it

From your GP: your referral will be valid 12 months UNLESS your GP indicates a different time period (such as 3, 6, 18 or indefinite).

From your specialist: your referral letter to another specialist will only be valid for 3 months.

1. The clock starts ticking on the date of your first consultation, not the date on the letter

Your referral letter expiry date is calculated from the date of your first consultation with the specialist. This means you can continue seeing your specialist (for the same condition), for 12 months from the date of your first specialist appointment. After this, you would require a new referral letter from your GP.

2. It is against the law for a GP or referring doctor to backdate a referral

The doctor issuing the referral may face charges and penalties.

OSHCstudents (source: Bupa)

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