This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

10 tips for referrals

1 Ask your practice secretary if they have any preferences for how letters are dictated or written.

1 Ask your practice secretary if they have any preferences for how letters are dictated or written.

2 Keep a log of all your referrals so you can find what happened to them – letters might not come back to you.

3 Be absolutely clear about what you are requesting from the consultant you are writing to.

4 Dictating the letter while the patient is present is a good way of checking that you've got the story correct.

5 Offering a copy of the referral letter to patients is good practice.

6 Avoid personal comments in the letter – the patronising phrase 'thank you for seeing this pleasant patient' should be outlawed.

7 Hospital referral may not be necessary – partners in the practice may have the necessary expertise for your patient's problem, so discuss this with your trainer (cardiac surgery excluded).

8 Use local referral guidelines, and find out from your practice secretary about templates and proformas.

9 For acute referrals, a printout of the current consultation, allergies, medications and major problems is simple, quick and very valuable.

10 If you admit a patient from a daytime home visit, sending a fax of this information when you get back to your surgery will add to the referral information.

Professor David Haslam is a PMETB board member and former RCGP chair

Rate this article 

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Have your say