Private referrals


What to expect once referred privately

This leaflet describes what you can expect to happen if you ask your GP to refer you to see a specialist doctor privately. Please read the information carefully. 


What happens next? 

Your GP will write a referral letter if they think it is appropriate and send it to the Consultant that you have both agreed to, this will include any relevant medical details about you. [If an insurance company wishes for a specific form to be completed you will be charged for this additional work]. 

You should contact the Consultant’s Secretary directly to organise an appointment. Should there be any appointment issues in the future, you should contact them directly. 


Seeing the Consultant 

What happens if I need a test or procedure? 

If the Consultant thinks that you need any tests (including blood tests), or a surgical procedure, the Consultant is responsible for:

  • arranging the tests as well as explaining how and when you will receive a date and what to do if the date is not suitable for you;
  • giving you the results and explaining what they mean (this may be done in a separate appointment with the Consultant or by letter). 

Your GP Surgery will not be able to take blood samples for tests requested by a Consultant in the Private sector.  You should not visit your GP surgery to discuss the results of tests organised by others, it is the Consultant’s responsibility to discuss this with you and the Surgery will not have access to the results. 


What happens if I need new medicines? 

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

The Consultant is responsible for:

  • giving you the first prescription for any new medicine that you need to start taking. Please note, this will be written on private prescription form and the medication should be issued by the Pharmacy at the Private Hospital.  
  • Writing a full clinic letter outlining any changes to medications and the reasons behind this.  In some cases, your GP may be able to continue to prescribe these medications. Please wait at least seven days to allow this letter to arrive before contacting our Practice. If a prescription is needed sooner than this you should contact the Consultant’s team for them to prescribe (usually via their Secretary). The Practice will not issue any NHS prescription for a medication recommended by the Consultant without sight of their clinic letter.

Private consultants may suggest medications to patients that wouldn’t normally be prescribed by the NHS. If this is the case, you will need to continue to receive them from the Consultant.  Please contact them directly to organise this. Further details on this can be found in your Practice’s repeat prescribing policy.


What happens if I need to transfer my care back to the NHS? 

If after seeing the Consultant privately you want to be back under NHS care, regulations allow for you to transfer back. This transfer needs to be done by the private Consultant who is overseeing your care and you should not be passed back to the GP for this to be done. There are a few reasons why; 

  • it delays your care
  • your Consultant knows the full details of your condition and where best to refer you to
  • it wastes precious NHS appointments with your GP 


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

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

  • the Consultant is responsible for issuing you with a Fit Note, this includes after operations.
  • the Fit Note should cover the period they expect you to be unfit to work, or until your next contact with the Consultant. 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 Consultant 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 Consultant 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 Consultant’s Secretary, rather than your GP surgery. 


What do I do if I have any questions?

If you have any specific questions related to your care, you should contact the Consultant’s team directly.


What happens if I’ve had tests through a Private screening clinic that show an abnormality?

Health screening is becoming very popular and well marketed in the Private sector.  Lots of these tests are not evidence based and not supported by the NHS Screening Committee or NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence).


Examples would be:

  • Testosterone levels
  • Vitamin D levels
  • Screening ECG (electrocardiograms)


If an abnormality is found on such screening tests, it is the responsibility of the private provider to action them appropriately.  NHS GP Practices are not responsible for repeating these tests or following them up unless they are part of a recognised NHS Screening programme.


This position is supported by the Royal College of General Practitioners and the British Medical Association.