referral system

referral system

referral system My GP practice has just notified its patients of the way in which referrals will now be handled:

When your doctor refers you to a specialist, the letter will now be sent to CALS (Clinical Advice and Liaison Service). The letter will be read by a specialist who may suggest:

  • referral to a consultant at a hospital
  • Referral to a local service (eg physiotherapy or a GP with a special interest in your problem)
  • Advice to your GP so that he/she can continue to treat you at the practice
  • Tests to be arranged

If a referral to a consultant has been recommended, you will be contacted and asked to choose when and where you are seen.

More levels of bureaucracy and slower service is what I foresee. Is this the same all over? And how long will the GP remain the doctor.

New to me I haven’t heard anything about this as yet, Phoebe, and wonder whether it’s universal or something that your particular primary care trust has initiated. I certainly agree with you that it seems likely to slow things down and also to undermine the status and professional autonomy of the GP. Interested to hear whether anyone else has come across it.


— I think we may be neighbours, Kathy. My GP practice is in Witney - yours must be nearby - would be interesting to find out if they have the same policy, just haven’t told their patients yet…


Hi Phoebe Yes, practically next-door. My GP is in Bicester, so same health authority. It’s a big practice and usually on the ball, so I’ll have to see whether I get the same information at some point.


I can tell you why Dear Phoebe

I used to work in the NHS and was involved in looking at how to speed up referrals to hospitals. The reason your trust is doing this is to check that the GP referrals are appropriate. You would be amazed at the number of GP’s who refer patients to hospital when it is not required, or because they don’t know what to do with the patient or they don’t give the required information to the hospital consultant. It is very easy for clinics to become blocked up with patients who have been referred inappropriately, thus causing more delay for those patients who really do need to be seen at the hospital.

So, although it may sound like more adminstrative bureacracy, it is actually designed to reduce the waiting time for patients who genuinely need to see a hospital consultant by ensuring that the system doesn’t get blocked up with people who don’t.

Furthermore, the hospitals will have a good idea of which GP’s refer inappropriately and they will therefore be looking more closely at these referrals and letting the referrals of GP’s whose opinion they trust go through very quickly.

Hope that helps.