Most patient contacts in the NHS take place in GP surgeries – but sometimes family doctors refer them to a specialist in a particular field of medicine.
Your GP should have discussed with you and/or your carer why the referral is necessary and what the expected outcomes are. Please make the doctor aware of any specific needs. It is important that the details about your address and telephone number(s) are correct.
It usually takes 7 to 14 working days for the referral letter or form to be prepared and signed by the doctor. Where a referral is urgent, these are done and sent within 24 hours in normal working hours.
Download our Patient Referral Information leaflet for Ivybridge here
Download our Patient Referral Information leaflet for Plympton here
The services you have been referred to are obliged to see you and offer treatment within 18 weeks, unless you choose to wait longer or it is clinically appropriate that you wait longer and in the case of suspected cancer referrals, to see you within two weeks. Please contact the service you have been referred to as soon as you experience a delay.
The referral will include the reason, your name, address, date of birth, NHS number, telephone number, past medical history, current medications, allergies or sensitivities, details of investigations or tests that have been taken and the results and possible expected outcome(s).
Often letters back from specialist services can take up to two weeks to reach your GP. Sometimes not all test results are sent back to your GP and it is worth asking our reception team whether results have been received before making an appointment. Please note that some specialist results are best interpreted by the specialist themselves and you should have an opportunity to discuss these with the specialist instead of your GP.
The specialist service has to provide you with the following:
Follow up appointments you may need to achieve the best possible outcome
If at any stage you are not sure as to what the next steps are in your care following a hospital/specialist or other professional consultation you should in the first instance discuss this with that health professional.
Patients should always contact the hospital directly to raise any queries or difficulties they encounter.
If you still do not feel the outcomes or experience of the hospital or community service matched your expectations. let us know or discuss again with the doctor who referred you. This is important as we would want to make sure that you are receiving the best care at all times and we may need to help you achieve this. You may not need an appointment for this, the doctor will respond to your message by calling you back.
NHS England and the British Medical Association have produced a useful leaflet explaining what happens when you are referred by your GP to see a specialist – including a checklist of issues to clarify with your consultant at the appointment.
Information about waiting times at Plymouth University Hospital is available on its website.
Devon Referral Support Service works on behalf of all Devon GPs and provides information about referrals, commissioning policies and support to patients who are referred to specialist care on their website: myhealth-devon.nhs.uk.
Patient Referral Information Leaflet
Below are links to leaflets where you will find a helpful list of departments you are able to contact about your referral. It would be helpful to have your NHS number to hand when contacting any of the below departments.