Referrals for specialist care

Referrals for specialist care

You are entitled to ask for a referral for specialist treatment on the NHS. However, whether you will get the referral depends on what your GP feels is clinically necessary in your case.

If you wish to be referred to a specialist in a particular field, such as a surgeon, or a gynaecologist (a specialist in the female reproductive system), you should see your GP/ANP.

If you ask your GP to refer you to a specialist, they will probably suggest that you first try various tests, or treatment options, to see whether your condition improves.

A specialist will only see you with a letter of referral from your GP. The letter will give the specialist essential background information, such as your medical history, and it will also contain details that the specialist needs to pay particular attention to.

If you are referred to a specialist by your GP or other health professional, you may have the right to choose which hospital in England to go to for your first appointment.

Once you have decided on a hospital, you could book your first outpatient appointment through the NHS e-Referral Service. This can happen in the following ways:

  • Your GP can book it while you’re at the surgery
  • You can book it online using the Appointment Request letter your GP gives you
  • You can phone the NHS e-Referral Service line on 0345 6088888 (open Monday-Friday, 8am to 8pm and on weekends and bank holidays 8am to 4pm)

For further information on what you can expect to happen when you are referred to see a specialist or consultant please select the link:

Referrals for specialist care – NHS (

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