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Can I take my referral to any specialist?

You've got a referral, but can you pick your own specialist?


You’ve been given a referral to a local specialist from your GP, but before you make an appointment, you decide to do some research…

…And, after reading online reviews and asking a few friends, you decide you’d prefer to visit an alternative specialist who lives closer, or comes highly recommended.

So, do you have to go back to your GP for another referral, or is the original referral transferable?

Transferring your referral

The Department of Human Services states on their website that, 'Patients should also be given the choice of where to present the referral, including where the referral is submitted electronically.'

This means that your referral can be transferred to a specialist that you choose, so long as they’re in the same speciality field.

Not only does this allow you to research and find a specialist that you feel will best suit your needs, but it also means that you may not have to book your appointment months in advance – you can phone around and find a specialist who doesn’t have long waiting times.

This means that your referral can be transferred to a specialist that you choose, so long as they’re in the same speciality field

An open referral

Concerned that your chosen specialist might not accept a referral that has been addressed to another doctor? You can always ask your GP not to specifically reference a specialist.

The Department of Human Services explains that, 'referring practitioners don’t need to address a referral to a specific specialist or consultant physician.'

A valid referral only needs the following:

  • relevant clinical information about the patient’s condition for investigation, opinion, treatment and/or management;

  • the date of the referral; and

  • the signature of the referring practitioner.

Our biggest tip? Talk to your GP, but do your research

Your GP has a wealth of knowledge, so if they refer you to a particular specialist, it’s a good idea to ask them ‘why?’ Maybe they’ve had a number of patients recommend them, or maybe it’s just because the specialist has an office down the road.

If you're an nib member heading to hospital soon, make sure you check out our Going to Hospital page. This tool gives you information on health insurance, tips on how to reduce any out-of-pocket expenses and helpful questions to ask your specialist. To find out the details of your current policy, chat to someone about your upcoming hospital visit or get some guidance, call us on 13 16 42.

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