Learn about the referral process between GPs and specialists

While GPs offer a variety of comprehensive health services, they may recommend specialist care after assessing your health condition.

Before you book an appointment with a medical specialist though, you’ll likely need a referral from your GP.

What is a referral?

A referral is a letter from your GP addressed to a particular type of medical specialist.

The referral letter will explain the medical reason why you’re being referred to a specialist doctor, and it will also include any relevant medical history, including allergies and medications.

Medical specialists generally don’t see patients without current referrals, and being a previous patient of a medical specialist doesn’t necessarily mean you can make ongoing appointments, either.

Previous referrals are usually only valid for one year – meaning you will need to book an appointment with a GP to get a new referral if your previous referral is more than twelve months old.

Get on top of your general health

Find and instantly book affordable GPs within Australia

Find GPs in Australia

The following are all examples of medical specialists in Australia:

Will my GP still be involved in my care?

After your referral, your GP will continue to work together with your specialist on an ongoing basis.

Your specialist will send any details and test results to your GP, and they will communicate regularly about your care and any treatments, medications or procedures you require.

If you have a chronic health condition, your GP may be able to manage this most of the time and refer you to a specialist, only if your condition worsens.

Are rebates available for medical specialist appointments?

Medicare will reimburse 85% of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) fee for a specialist. However, many specialists charge above the MBS fee – so you may wish to contact the specialist practice and chat to the staff about their fee structures prior to your appointment.

How do I find a medical specialist?

Generally, your GP will be able to recommend a specialist for you based on your individual circumstances and preferences. Your GP may have relationships with specialists in the area – and some may even share premises.

Certain medical specialists, particularly those who are well-known and in high demand – have long wait times and can be booked out for months in advance. So it might be helpful to ask your GP to recommend a few options for you.

Next steps

Remember, only your GP can determine whether you require specialist care. You can use HealthEngine to book an appointment with your GP, who will be able to recommend the best course of action for your health concern.

If you do need a specialist referral, you can also use HealthEngine to find suitable specialists in your area.




A: Use HealthEngine to find and book your next GP appointment. Click on the following locations to find a GP clinic in your state or territory.


This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If in doubt, HealthEngine recommends consulting with a registered health practitioner.