How referrals work

In this article:

 

Overview

A clinician might refer you to a specialist at a hospital or community service for further care, or to investigate your symptoms further.

For most referrals, you’ll need to speak to a clinician first. They’ll decide if a referral is clinically necessary.

There are some specialist services that you can use without talking to a clinician first. This is known as self-referral.

After your appointment with one of our clinicians, if they feel it’s clinically necessary, they’ll refer you to the appropriate specialist. You’ll be sent a referral letter with details on how to arrange your appointment.

See the NHS England leaflet about what happens when you're referred by your GP to see a specialist.

 

Arranging your referral appointment

You’ll get a text message to access your referral letter, usually within 2 weeks, or sooner if it’s urgent.

The letter will include your referral details, where you have been referred to and how to arrange your appointment.

We’ll use the phone number we have on record for you. You can check and update this in the app. If we can’t send you a text message, we’ll post the referral letter to you.

The way you arrange your appointment is different, depending on:

 

Referrals to a specialist or hospital

Your referral letter will have details on where you have been referred to and how to arrange your appointment.

Hospitals use different ways of arranging appointments:

  • You may get a reference number and password to book and manage your appointment online using the NHS e-Referral Service or over the phone.
  • You may receive a letter from the hospital confirming your appointment. You need to reply as soon as possible and tell the hospital if you can attend on the date offered.
  • Alternatively, the hospital may contact you to arrange an appointment or ask you to contact them.

Using the NHS e-Referral Service

You can use the NHS e-Referral service to:

  • book your referral appointment
  • check your appointment details
  • cancel or change your appointment
  • cancel your referral

To access the service, you’ll need:

  • a reference number (from your referral letter)
  • a password or access code (from your referral letter)
  • your year of birth

For updates on your referral appointment, check your referral online or contact the service directly. We are unable to check for updates on your behalf.

If you need help using the service, you can phone the NHS e-Referral Service line on 0345 608 8888.

 

Referrals to a community service

For Community Services, such as Mental Health and Physiotherapy, the provider will contact you directly about your appointment. This will usually be within 2 weeks but it can take longer. For urgent referrals, you should be contacted by the provider within 1 week.

Your referral letter will have details on where you have been referred to and how to contact them.

For updates on your referral appointment, contact the service directly. We are unable to check for updates on your behalf.

Psychiatry UK service update (ADHD services)

Psychiatry UK's services can be very busy and there may be long wait times to get an appointment. If you've been referred for adult ADHD services, Psychiatry UK will usually contact you within 4 weeks but it can take longer. We recommend checking their website for the latest updates: https://psychiatry-uk.com/right-to-choose/. We are unable to check for updates on your behalf.

 

Self-referrals

After referring yourself to a service for specialist care, they’ll contact you directly with details on what to do next.

For updates on your referral, contact the service directly. 

 

Who to contact for an update on your referral

Once you’ve received your referral letter, contact the hospital or service directly for updates. Their details will be on your letter.

If you booked your referral appointment using the NHS e-Referral Service you can check the status of your referral online. You’ll need your reference number and password or access code. This will be on your referral letter.

We are unable to chase or arrange an earlier appointment on your behalf.

 

Private referrals

During your appointment, you can ask the GP for a private referral which will be emailed to you. You can then take this to an external private hospital.

If you have already received an NHS referral and decide you want to go to a private hospital or specialist, please contact us. We’ll cancel your NHS referral and issue you a private referral instead.

 

After your referral appointment

You might get a letter from the specialist to give to your clinician.

If you do, send a copy of the letter using our contact form and we’ll add it to your medical records.

You’ll need to include:

  • A scan or the photo of the letter
  • Your full name
  • Your date of birth
  • Your address

You won’t see information about your treatment in the app, but we’ll add the information to your medical record so clinicians can see it.

It can take up to 2 months for us to get this information, depending on the type of treatment and how urgent it is.

If you had a test as part of your referral, the specialist should talk through your results with you. 

Call your specialist directly if you haven’t got your results or you have questions about them.

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