Hospital Referrals - What Happens?

Routine Referrals - What happens when you are referred by your GP to see a specialist?

Why have I been referred?

Your GP will discuss your referral with you and, if appropriate, your carer, about why a referral is being recommended.  It is usually because your GP wants a specialist's help in deciding on the best way to treat your condition. This might involve referring you for tests or investigations that cannot be carried out in a GP surgery.  Your GP will also discuss with you what choices there are for where you can be referred.

How will I hear about where and when the appointment is?

GP practices and hospitals use different ways of arranging appointments:

  • Your GP practice may give you a reference number and a password you can use to book, change or cancel your appointment online or by phone - this is known as the NHS e-Referral Service (previously Choose and Book) - more information on this service can be found further down this page.
  • 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 the date offered.
  • Alternatively, sometimes patients receive a letter asking them to phone the hospital to make an appointment with a specialist.

What happens if I need a test or procedure?

Normally, if the specialist thinks you need a test, investigation or surgical procedure, the specialist is responsible for:

  • Arranging the test, investigation or procedure, explaining how and when you will receive a date and what to do if the date is not suitable for you.
  • The specialist is responsible for giving you the results of any tests, investigation or procedure and will explain what they mean.  This may be done in a separate appointment with the specialist or by letter.
  • Please note - your GP surgery do not get the results of any tests, investigations or procedures requested by your specialist until you have seen the specialist again, so please contact your specialist's office if you need this information. The letter from the specialist usually reaches us some 2-4 weeks after your appointment.

What happens if I need new medicines?

The specialist might suggest prescribing new medicines for you or might want to make changes to the medicines that you are already taking.

The specialist is responsible for:

  • Giving you the first prescription for any new medicine that you need to start straight away.  
  • Giving you enough medicine to last at least the first seven days, unless you need to take the medicine for a shorter time.  After this, you will need to contact your GP surgery if another prescription is required.

It is important to understand whether you need to start any new medicines, or whether the specialist has changed the medicines you already take, so ask the specialist if you are not sure. 

In some cases, your GP will not be able to prescribe certain medicines and you will need to continue to receive these from the hospital.  You will be told about this at your appointment.

What if I need a Fit Note (previously known as a Sick Note)?

If you need to be certified as unfit for work following treatment by a specialist:

  • The specialist should issue you with a Fit Note
  • The Fit Note should cover the period they expect you to be unfit to work, or until your next contact with the specialist.

You should not need to see your GP to get a Fit Note following hospital treatment, unless your inability to work is unexpectedly prolonged.

What if I need a follow up appointment?

The specialist will discuss with you whether you should attend hospital for ongoing follow up care or whether you should be discharged back to your GP.  If the specialist thinks you do need to be seen again, the hospital will give you another appointment or tell you when to expect this.  If you do not hear anything, please contact the specialist's office, rather than your GP surgery.

What do I do if I have any questions?

  • If you have any specific questions related to your hospital care, your specialist will be able to help you with this, so its important that you make sure you know how you can contact your specialist's office.
  • If you have any general questions related to your health, your GP surgery will be able to help you.

Urgent Referrals [Two week rule]

If there is a possibility that you might have a cancer, we will discuss with you the best specialist to go to. We will refer you under the "Two Week Rule" protocol, whereby you are guaranteed to be seen by the specialist within two weeks of seeing your GP.


We can refer you to Basingstoke Hospital, Frimley Park Hospital or to the Community Physiotherapy Service when appropriate. The waiting times vary. There are also Private Physiotherapists and Hospitals available.

NHS e-Referral Service

The NHS e-Referral Service (previously known as Choose & Book) is a service whereby you can book your appointment at a hospital of your choice, at a clinic, date and time that is convenient to you. 

More information and a list of frequently asked questions are available on the NHS Choices website. If you need to be referred to a specialist on the NHS, your GP can offer more information regarding the e-Referral Service.

Second Opinions

If you are dissatisfied with your Consultant or Hospital, or just need a second opinion: please discuss with your GP.

Recovery After Surgical Operations - Essential Advice.

Please refer to this link to the Royal College website.

Recovering from surgery

Information About Your Hip or Knee Operation

Please go to this website which provides patient education for every step of your treatment.

Call 111 when you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergencyNHS ChoicesThis site is brought to you by My Surgery Website