What is a referral?

It’s the process that happens when your doctor or nurse feels that you would benefit from a specialist opinion. A referral can only be made after you have consulted a doctor or nurse. There are several different areas to we can refer to.

Primary care referrals

This is when you’re referred to community based environment. Examples include the community diabetic team, and the antenatal referral.

Secondary care referrals

This is when you’re referred to hospital.

Emergency referral

If the clinician feels that your problem is urgent, you’ll be referred to the Quick and Early Diagnosis team (QED). This QED team aims to review patients within two weeks.

How do we refer patients?

Where possible, we use the National ‘E-referral’ system. This gives you more choice and flexibility when you’re being referred for further care.

With this system, you can now:

  • choose from a list of hospitals that offer the service you need
  • book your own appointment

Most NHS services now use the ‘Choose and Book’ system. However, some services still require manual referrals. In these cases, you’ll get your appointment in the post. You’ll normally wait 6-8 weeks for a confirmation, but this can vary.


You can collect your booking details within 76 hours of you being referred by your doctor or nurse.

We’ll contact you when your document is ready to collect from our reception. Your document will contain your:

  • Unique Booking Reference Number (UBRN)
  • Choice of Hospitals
  • Contact Numbers for booking your appointment
  • Password

You’ll need all of these details to:

  • book your appointment
  • check an appointment at a later date
  • cancel your appointment

Next you’ll need to choose which hospital you’d like to attend, from the list you were given. You can do this online, or by clicking here.

Occasionally E-Referrals may have to be ‘deferred to the provider’ or sent for triage before the hospital will accept your referral, due to a lack of appointments. If this happens the hospital or clinic you have been referred to will contact you directly with an appointment.

Manual Referrals

If you’re referred manually, the service will write to you. Your letter will include your appointment date and time.  If you haven’t had an appointment within 16 weeks please call the service’s appointment line.

If you are referred via the manual method you will receive a letter from the service with a pre chosen appointment date and time.

Changing and cancelling manual appointments

Want to change or cancel your manual appointment? Then you’ll need to call the service provider’s appointment department. Their phone number will be on the letter you get.