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GP referrals explained

Need specialist care? Get a GP referral letter today.

Get a GP referral to a hospital or specialist from a Medicspot doctor.

Written by Dr Zubair Ahmed and Dr Abby Hyams. Last reviewed on 01/03/2019. Next review date 01/03/2022.

Fast facts

What is a GP referral letter?

Many clinics and hospitals require a GP referral letter before they can provide specialist treatment. Referral letters are often addressed to an outpatient clinic, a type of specialist or a named doctor. It will describe the reason why you’re being referred, as well as your past medical history, including medications, allergies and any other relevant information.

How to get a GP referral?

NHS GPs and private GPs can both write referral letters for private treatment. If you need to see a specialist under the NHS, we recommend that you get referred by your NHS GP.


GP referral guidelines

Do you feel like you need specialist treatment but are unsure where to start? You’re not alone, referrals can be difficult to navigate. This chapter will cover common questions about GP referrals and give you the confidence to take the next step in your treatment journey.

How long should a referral letter take from a GP?

How long it takes to receive your NHS referral letter depends on how you arrange your appointment. If your GP gives you a reference number and password, you can book your appointment online using the NHS e-Referral Service straight away.

If your GP directly corresponds with the hospital, you may receive a letter from the hospital either confirming your appointment date or asking you to call to make an appointment. The time it takes to receive this letter varies from hospital to hospital.

Private GP referral letters are often emailed to patients on the same day as their appointment. You can get a private referral today by booking a doctor appointment online.

How much does a referral letter cost?

NHS GPs cannot charge patients for NHS or private referrals.

Some private GPs charge patients extra fees to write a referral letter. There are no extra fees for referrals by Medicspot doctors.

Can you use your referral for a different doctor?

Referral letters do not have to be addressed to an individual consultant - they are addressed to a department or type of specialist. Once your NHS referral has been allocated you cannot change the consultant or team you see without a new referral.


If your appointment is through the NHS e-Referral service, you can usually choose your treatment provider and book your appointment online.


Read the NHS Choice Framework for details on when you can and cannot select your care provider.

How long is a doctor referral good for?

The length of time a referral is valid depends on the type and severity of your condition. Doctor referral letters will include the date of referral and it is up to the discretion of the specialist whether they deem this valid or out of date.

Can you see a consultant without a GP referral?

You will need a GP referral to receive specialist treatment with the NHS.

Some specialists do not require a GP referral for private treatment. However, many private specialists require a GP referral, as do most private medical insurance policies. Ask your medical insurer and private specialist whether a referral letter is needed.

What to do if a GP refused your referral request?

Your GP generally understands your need for a referral better than anyone because they know what can be dealt with in primary care and what needs specialist assessment and treatment. They don’t have to refer you to a specialist if they believe it’s not the right option. However, you’re entitled to ask for the reason why they refused your referral request.

If you’re unhappy about being refused a referral, you may ask to speak with another GP to get a second opinion. However, you may often get the same advice.


GP referral to hospital

Upon receiving your NHS GP referral letter to hospital, you’ll be instructed to book an appointment or attend the specified appointment time. Once booked, you may have follow-up questions that need answering. This chapter will explain some of the frequently asked questions about referrals to hospital and private hospital appointments.

How long does it take for a hospital referral?

For non-emergency treatment, you are entitled to start treatment within 18 weeks of your NHS GP referral. If your GP suspects cancer then referrals are deemed urgent and will be fast-tracked to a maximum 2 week wait.

Private referral wait times can vary depending on the specialist you choose to see and the seriousness of your condition.


Read the guide to NHS waiting times in England for further details on waiting time rights.

What if you can’t make your hospital appointment?

To change your scheduled hospital appointment, you should either:

  • Follow the e-Referral service instructions if you booked using this service.
  • Contact the relevant appointments office at your hospital or outpatient clinic.

Are you entitled to time off for hospital appointments?

Your employer is not legally required to give you time off for a doctor or hospital appointment unless otherwise stated in your employment contract. They may say you need to take time off using holiday leave or unpaid leave in order to attend, but can also insist that you need to reschedule your appointment outside of work hours.

Exceptions to this include:

  • Expectant mothers are entitled to paid leave for antenatal care if they’ve been advised by a midwife or doctor.
  • Expectant partners of a pregnant woman are entitled to unpaid leave to attend up to 2 antenatal appointments.


Read our sick note guide for more information on taking sick leave.

Why do private hospitals want GP referral letters?

Private hospitals often require GP referrals because:

  1. GPs are best positioned to refer patients for specialist treatment because they are usually the first doctor to see patients with their condition. They also have knowledge of all body systems and so are able to know who to refer to correctly.
  2. Many private medical insurance companies require a referral letter to justify the cost of seeing a consultant.

How much does it cost to see a private consultant?

The cost of a private consultation with a specialist varies depending on where you live and the type of treatment you require.

Typically, private medical treatment costs are considerably higher from a leading specialist in Harley Street, London, compared to the rest of the UK. Similarly, consultants with a higher degree of specialty, like neurosurgeons or cardiac surgeons, will often be more expensive than commonly frequented specialists, like gynecologists or radiologists.

Where can I find a private consultant?

There are a number of websites you can use to find a private medical consultant, including Private Healthcare UK and Doctify. Both sites have useful filtering options to help you find and book appointments with the right specialist.


Different types of specialists

You may be wondering what type of specialist doctor you need for help with your condition. This chapter explains what each type of consultant does, the conditions they may treat, and where to find your nearest NHS specialist.

What is an audiologist?

Audiologists are not trained as doctors but are professionals specialising in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss and balance disorders. Amongst other things, they're able to:

  • Advise on hearing loss prevention.
  • Assess hearing and balance functions in adults and children.
  • Conduct hearing tests and screening.
  • Conduct newborn hearing assessments.
  • Prescribe, fit and adjust hearing aids and assistive technology.
  • Provide hearing rehabilitation.
  • Provide support and advice on coping with tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

Audiologists can help with:

  • balance problems
  • hearing aids
  • hearing loss
  • tinnitus

Find your nearest NHS child and adolescent audiology services.

What is bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery, also known as weight loss surgery, can be used to treat people who are very obese. It can result in substantial weight loss but is often only considered after the patient has tried other weight loss methods (like exercise, healthy diet or specially monitored diets prescribed by healthcare professionals). Different types of bariatric surgery include:

  • gastric band
  • gastric bypass
  • sleeve gastrectomy

Find your nearest NHS bariatric surgery services.

What is a cardiologist?

Cardiologists specialise in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases and defects of the cardiovascular system (like the heart and blood vessels). They're able to:

  • Conduct tests (like an electrocardiogram, ambulatory ECG, exercise test, echocardiogram or cardiac catheterisation) and evaluate results.
  • Recommend further tests (like an x-ray or blood tests).
  • Advise on surgical procedures.
  • Recommend lifestyle changes or medication.

Amongst other things, cardiologists can help with:

  • angina
  • arrhythmias
  • atherosclerosis
  • atrial fibrillation
  • heart attacks
  • heart diseases
  • heart murmurs
  • high cholesterol
  • hypertension
  • oedema
  • thrombosis

Note: Paediatric cardiologists specialise in the management of heart disorders in children.

Find your nearest NHS cardiology services.

What is a cardiothoracic surgeon?

A cardiothoracic surgeon is a specialist who operates on thoracic organs (like the heart and lungs). They're able to:

  • Diagnose and treat diseases of thoracic organs (organs inside the chest).
  • Perform cardiothoracic surgery.
  • Monitor patients in intensive care after their cardiothoracic surgery.

Amongst other things, cardiothoracic surgeons can help with:

  • aneurysms
  • angina
  • heart attacks
  • heart diseases
  • heart valve defects
  • septal defects
  • empyema
  • lung cancers
  • lung metastases
  • lung tumours and cysts
  • mesothelioma
  • pleural effusion
  • pneumothorax

Find your nearest NHS cardiothoracic surgery services.

What is complementary therapy?

Complementary therapy can be used alongside mainstream medical treatments to help improve symptoms and quality of life. Complementary therapies include:

  • acupuncture
  • aromatherapy
  • chiropractic
  • colonic irrigation
  • herbal medicine
  • homeopathy
  • massage therapy
  • meditation
  • osteopathy
  • visualisation
  • yoga

Complementary therapy on the NHS is limited and is usually not offered to patients. See your GP for advice first before visiting a complementary therapist.


Complementary therapy is not the same as alternative therapy. Alternative therapy is used instead of conventional medical treatments and often has no scientific evidence to show its effectiveness.

What is a dermatologist?

Dermatologists specialise in the diagnosis, treatment and management of skin disease and hair and nail complaints. They're able to:

  • Examine the skin.
  • Diagnose rashes.
  • Perform and make diagnosis from biopsies.
  • Administer intralesional injections.
  • Perform skin-related procedures or surgery.
  • Prescribe medication and treatment.

Amongst other things, dermatologists can help with: *acne

  • eczema
  • dermatitis
  • hair disorders
  • nail problems
  • psoriasis
  • severe drug rashes
  • shingles
  • skin cancer
  • skin diseases
  • skin tumours
  • warts

Find your nearest NHS dermatology services.

What is an endocrinologist?

Endocrinologists specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the endocrine system. The endocrine system is made up of endocrine glands that produce hormones (chemical messengers). These glands include the adrenal glands, ovaries, pancreas, parathyroid glands, pituitary gland, testicles, and thyroid gland. Endocrinologists are able to:

  • Diagnose complex endocrine disorders.
  • Manage pre and post-operative diabetic and endocrine patients.
  • Manage diabetic and endocrine disorders during pregnancy.
  • Manage diabetic and endocrine emergencies.
  • Manage any disorder of the endocrine system.

Amongst other things, endocrinologists can help with:

  • adrenal diseases
  • bone and calcium disorders
  • cancer late effects
  • diabetes
  • endocrine cancers
  • lipid disorders
  • menopause
  • metabolic diseases
  • pituitary diseases
  • reproductive hormone disorders
  • thyroid diseases

Find your nearest NHS endocrinology and metabolic medicine services.

What is a gastroenterologist?

Gastroenterologists specialise in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of gastrointestinal (stomach and intestines) and hepatological (liver, gallbladder, biliary tree and pancreas) diseases. They're able to:

  • Diagnose and manage gastrointestinal and hepatic conditions.
  • Conduct upper or lower gastrointestinal endoscopies (like a colonoscopy).
  • Conduct intestinal or liver biopsies.

Amongst other things, gastroenterologists can help with:

  • diagnosing the cause of anaemia
  • diverticulitis
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • gastroenteritis
  • symptoms of IBS
  • gastrointestinal bleeding
  • gastrointestinal cancers
  • hepatitis
  • jaundice
  • liver disorders and diseases
  • pancreaticobiliary diseases
  • short bowel syndrome
  • small bowel disease

Find your nearest NHS gastrointestinal and liver services.

What is a geriatric doctor?

Geriatric doctors (known as geriatricians or Care of the Elderly specialists) specialise in the management of health and illness in elderly people. They're able to:

  • Conduct health assessments, including fitness, mobility, nutrition, cognition, and mood, among others.
  • Diagnose and manage acute illnesses and chronic diseases in elderly people.
  • Manage complex health presentations, including people who have several medications for different medical conditions.
  • Assess the outcome of rehabilitation programs.

The aging process affects the likelihood of elderly people developing different types of disease and their response to different treatments. Amongst other things, geriatric doctors can help with:

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • dementia
  • incontinence
  • mobility difficulties
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • strokes
  • complex conditions relate to the aging process
  • frailty

Find your nearest NHS geriatric medicine services.

What is general surgery?

General surgery broadly covers a wide range of surgical procedures. Amongst other things, general surgery can cover:

  • breast surgery (like breast cancer and breast reconstruction)
  • upper gastrointestinal surgery (including the oesophagus, stomach, liver, and pancreas)
  • lower gastrointestinal surgery (like bowel cancer, colon diseases, and rectum diseases)
  • elective (planned) surgery
  • trauma surgery

Find your nearest NHS general surgery services.

What is genitourinary medicine?

Genitourinary medicine (GUM) is the branch of medicine concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Amongst other things, GUM physicians are able to:

  • Conduct sexual health screening.
  • Prevent, diagnose and manage STIs.
  • Provide HIV diagnosis, care and treatment.
  • Perform minor outpatient procedures.

Find your nearest NHS genitourinary medicine services.

What is a gynaecologist?

Gynaecologists specialise in the health of the female reproductive system and the ability to reproduce. They're able to:

  • Conduct internal examinations.
  • Conduct smear tests, biopsies and scans.
  • Diagnose and manage gynecological conditions.
  • Treat abnormal polyps and bleeding.
  • Perform surgical inventions after a miscarriage.
  • Provide emergency gynecological care.

Amongst other things, gynaecologists can help with:

  • contraception
  • endometriosis
  • fertility problems
  • hysterectomy
  • irregular or heavy periods
  • menopause
  • menstruation
  • miscarriage
  • ovarian cysts
  • pelvic pain
  • pregnancy
  • sexually transmitted infections
  • sterilisation
  • suspected ovarian or endometrial cancers
  • urinary tract infections

Find your nearest NHS gynaecology services.

What is a midwife?

Midwives specialise in providing care and support to women and their families throughout their pregnancy, labour and post-labour. They're able to:

  • Provide advice during and after pregnancy, including full antenatal care.
  • Identify high-risk pregnancies.
  • Support women during the birthing process.
  • Advise new and expectant mothers on how to feed, bathe and care for their babies.

Amongst other things, midwives can help with:

  • birth
  • labour
  • pregnancy

Find your nearest NHS obstetrics services.

What is nephrology?

Nephrology is the branch of medicine concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases. Nephrologists are able to:

  • Manage and treat kidney diseases.
  • Advise and adjust medications.
  • Provide kidney dialysis.
  • Perform procedures or surgery on the kidney.
  • Recommend kidney transplantation.

Amongst other things, nephrologists can help with:

  • acute kidney injury
  • autoimmune disorders (like systemic lupus erythematosus, acute glomerulonephritis, and vasculitis)
  • diabetes
  • metabolic disorders (like cystinuria)
  • resistant hypertension
  • kidney infections
  • kidney failure
  • kidney tumours
  • renal failure

Find your nearest NHS nephrology services.

What is a neurologist?

Neurologists specialise in the diagnosis, treatment and management of disorders affecting the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) and the peripheral nervous system (the nerves and muscles responsible for movement and sensation). Amongst other things, neurologists are able to:

  • Conduct clinical assessments.
  • Recommend further tests (like CT scans, MRI scans, blood tests or electrical tests).
  • Diagnose and manage neurological conditions.

Get a referral letter to a neurologist for help with:

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • brain damage and tumours
  • dementia
  • epilepsy
  • multiple sclerosis
  • muscle diseases (like muscular dystrophy)
  • myasthenia gravis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • peripheral neuropathy
  • spinal cord diseases
  • strokes

Find your nearest NHS neurology services.

What is a neurosurgeon?

A neurosurgeon is a specialist who operates on the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and the peripheral nervous system. They're able to:

  • Diagnose disorders of the nervous system.
  • Perform minimally invasive procedures.
  • Perform surgery (sometimes to treat life threatening conditions).

Amongst other things, neurosurgeons can help with:

  • brain, spinal, skull base, and pituitary tumours
  • cerebral aneurysms
  • certain psychiatric disorders
  • congenital conditions
  • degenerative spinal conditions
  • epilepsy
  • head and spinal cord trauma
  • hydrocephalus
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • prolapsed discs
  • neuroendocrine disorders
  • strokes

Find your nearest NHS neurosurgery services.

What is oncology?

Oncology is the branch of medicine concerned with the diagnosis, treatment, and management of cancers. Oncologists are able to:

  • Diagnose cancers.
  • Advise and carry out treatment (like chemotherapy, radiotherapy, endocrine therapy, biological therapies, or surgery).
  • Provide the right care and treatment for cancer patients (from cures to palliative care to improving quality of life).

Amongst other things, oncologists can help with:

  • breast cancer
  • colorectal cancer
  • leukaemia
  • lung cancer
  • melanoma
  • ovarian cancer
  • upper gastrointestinal cancer
  • urological cancers

Find your nearest NHS oncology services.

What is ophthalmology?

Ophthalmology is the branch of medicine concerned with eye conditions and the visual system. Ophthalmologists are able to:

  • Manage patients of all ages.
  • Manage acute and long term eye disease.
  • Prevent, diagnose and treat eye disorders.
  • Perform eye surgery (like cataract surgery and glaucoma surgery).

Amongst other things, ophthalmologists can help with:

  • cataracts
  • corneal diseases
  • diabetic retinopathy
  • neurological problems related to the eye
  • glaucoma
  • infectious eye diseases
  • intraocular inflammation
  • macular degeneration
  • retinal problems
  • squints

Find your nearest NHS cataract surgery services.

What is oral and maxillofacial surgery?

Oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMFS) is the surgical specialty concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the mouth, jaws, face, and neck. OMFS consultants are seen as the bridge between medicine and dentistry and able to:

  • Provide non-surgical management of oral and maxillofacial conditions.
  • Perform surgery on the hard and soft tissues of the face, jaws and neck.
  • Provide treatment for conditions dentists feel may be too specialised for them to deal with.

Amongst other things, OMFS consultants can help with:

  • buried dental roots
  • cosmetic surgery
  • cleft lip and palate
  • facial injuries
  • head and neck cancers
  • jaw tumours and cysts
  • oral cancer
  • oral mucosal disease
  • salivary gland diseases
  • skin tumours

Find your nearest NHS oral and maxillofacial surgery services.

What is orthopaedics?

Trauma and orthopaedic surgery (T&O surgery) is the surgical specialty concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions. This can involve bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, nerves and muscles. Trauma and orthopaedic surgeons are able to:

  • Perform minimally invasive procedures.
  • Manage trauma emergencies.
  • Perform T&O surgery.

Amongst other things, trauma and orthopaedic surgeons can help with:

  • broken, fractured or dislocated bones
  • congenital musculoskeletal conditions
  • degenerative musculoskeletal conditions
  • infections and tumours of the musculoskeletal system
  • soft tissue injuries

Find your nearest NHS orthopaedics services.

What is an otorhinolaryngologist?

An otorhinolaryngologist (also known as an ENT surgeons) specialises in the diagnosis and management of diseases of the head and neck (like the ear, nose and throat). They are able to examine patients and perform procedures or surgery on the head or neck.

Amongst other things, otorhinolaryngologists can help with:

  • balance disorders
  • breathing and swallowing disorders
  • ear conditions (like severe or chronic ear infections) and hearing disorders
  • head and neck conditions and cancers
  • nose conditions (like severe or chronic sinusitis)
  • throat conditions (like tonsillitis, quinsey and laryngitis)

Find your nearest NHS ear, nose and throat services.

What is paediatrics?

Paediatrics is the branch of medicine concerned with the management of medical conditions in infants, children and young adults. Paediatricians are involved in all stages of the healthcare system, including primary, secondary and tertiary care.

Paediatric surgeons can also provide advice for parents. Amongst other things, they’re also able to perform a wide range of surgeries including:

  • abdominal surgery
  • endoscopic surgery
  • intestinal surgery
  • laparoscopic surgery
  • neonatal surgery
  • surgical oncology
  • thoracic surgery
  • transplantation
  • trauma surgery
  • urological surgery

Find your nearest NHS paediatric services and paediatric intensive care services.

What is pain management?

Pain management is the branch of medicine concerned with easing patient suffering and improving quality of live. Pain management specialists may treat pain using medication, injections, therapy, exercise and TENS machines. Specialists tend to come from a variety of backgrounds including anaesthetic doctors and psychologists.

If you have difficulty managing your pain, your NHS GP may refer you to a specialist pain clinic. Private pain management specialists are also available. Amongst other things, pain clinics can help with pain from:

  • acute or chronic pain
  • arthritis
  • neck, back or spinal problems
  • nerve damage
  • old or new injuries

Find your nearest NHS pain management services.

What is a physiotherapist?

Physiotherapists are not doctors. They are professionals that specialise in the treatment of conditions, diseases and injuries affecting movement. They're able to:

  • Provide advice on preventing injury (like posture and correct lifting techniques)
  • Use exercise, electrotherapy and massage techniques to improve mobility and ease pain.
  • Relieve pain through muscle therapy.

Amongst other things, physiotherapists can help with:

  • arthritis
  • asthma
  • chronic heart disease
  • COPD
  • cystic fibrosis
  • multiple sclerosis
  • neuromusculoskeletal conditions
  • Parkinson's disease
  • rehabilitation
  • sports injuries
  • strokes

Find your nearest NHS physiotherapy services.

What is plastic surgery?

Plastic surgery is the branch of medicine concerned with restoring or repairing parts of the body following injury or for cosmetic reasons. Plastic surgeons can perform reconstructive and cosmetic surgery.

Reconstructive surgery can include:

  • breast reconstruction
  • cleft lip and palate treatment
  • hand operations
  • head and neck reconstruction
  • reconstructive burns surgery
  • skin cancer procedures
  • trauma surgery

Aesthetic or cosmetic surgery can include:

  • breast enlargement surgery
  • breast reduction surgery
  • ear correction surgery
  • eyelid surgery
  • facelift surgery
  • liposuction

Find your nearest NHS plastic surgery services.

What is a podiatrist?

Podiatrists are not doctors but are professionals that specialise in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of foot, ankle and lower leg disorders. They’re able to provide advice on how to prevent foot problems and how to take care of the feet and legs.

Amongst other things, podiatrists can help with:

  • arthritis
  • foot care related to complications from diabetes
  • lower limb pain
  • sports injuries
  • walking problems

Find your nearest NHS podiatrist or chiropodist.

What is a psychologist?

Psychologists are not doctors but are professionals that specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of mental and physical health problems. They're able to:

  • Assess a patient’s problems using observation, interviews, psychometric testing and other techniques.
  • Reduce psychological distress and promote psychological well-being.
  • Provide treatment CBT.

Amongst other things, psychologists can help with:

  • addiction
  • anxiety
  • bereavement
  • depression
  • domestic violence
  • eating disorders
  • learning difficulties
  • panic attacks
  • personality disorders
  • PTSD
  • relationship issues
  • sexual abuse
  • stress

Find your nearest NHS psychology services.

What is a psychotherapist?

Psychotherapists are not doctors but are professionals that specialise in the treatment of mental health problems using psychological methods (rather than medical). They're able to:

  • Assess mental health and wellbeing.
  • Resolve issues through open dialogue.

Amongst other things, psychotherapists can help with:

  • aggressive behaviour
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • eating disorders
  • OCD
  • panic attacks
  • phobias
  • PTSD
  • relationship problems
  • stress

Find your nearest NHS psychological therapy services or learn more about different types of therapy.

What is radiology?

Radiology is the branch of medicine that uses images to diagnose and treat health conditions. Radiologists are able to:

  • Examine images, anatomy and pathology of patients using investigations such as CT, X-ray, ultrasound and MRI.
  • Use the appropriate techniques to diagnose patients.
  • Minimise radiation exposure for patients.

Radiologists use various techniques like:

  • MRI scans
  • computed tomography (CT)
  • fluoroscopy
  • molecular imaging
  • nuclear medicine techniques
  • positron emission tomography
  • ultrasounds
  • x-rays

Find your nearest NHS diagnostic imaging services. Alternatively, you can book a private GP referral for an MRI scan today.

What is a respiratory consultant?

Respiratory consultants specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of respiratory conditions. This can involve the windpipe, lungs and diaphragm. They're able to:

  • Conduct lung function tests.
  • Perform minimally invasive procedures.
  • Initiate non-invasive ventilation for patients.
  • Diagnose and treat lung conditions.

Amongst other things, respiratory consultants can help with:

  • asthma
  • cancer
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • cystic fibrosis
  • interstitial lung disease
  • tuberculosis (TB)

Find your nearest NHS respiratory medicine services.

What is a rheumatologist?

Rheumatologists specialise in the diagnosis, management and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal disorders and immune system disorders. This can involve the muscles, soft tissues, bones and joints. They're able to:

  • Physically examine patients.
  • Run tests (like x-rays).
  • Administer spinal, joint and soft tissue injections.

Amongst other things, rheumatologists can help with:

  • back problems
  • gout
  • lupus
  • musculoskeletal infections
  • osteoarthritis
  • osteoporosis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • tennis elbow

Find your nearest NHS rheumatology services.

What is a urologist?

Urologists specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of female urinary system and male genitourinary tract problems. This can involve the bladder, kidneys, male reproductive organs, prostate and ureters. Common procedures carried out by urological surgeons include:

  • bladder reconstruction after removal
  • circumcision
  • kidney stone removal
  • removal of the bladder, kidney or prostate to treat cancer
  • urostomy
  • vasectomy

Amongst other things, urologists can help with:

  • bladder stones
  • cancer
  • congenital disorders of the bladder and male reproductive organs
  • erectile dysfunction
  • impotence
  • incontinence
  • infections of the male reproductive organs, prostate and urethra
  • infertility
  • tumours of the bladder, male reproductive organs, prostate and urethra

Find your nearest NHS urology services.

What is vascular surgery?

Vascular surgery is the surgical specialty concerned with the diagnosis and management of conditions affecting circulation. This can include arteries, lymphatic vessels and veins but excludes the brain and heart. Vascular surgeons are able to:

  • Provide advice on living a healthy lifestyle.
  • Perform minimally invasive procedures and open surgery.
  • Diagnose and treat any condition arising from the vascular system.

Amongst other things, vascular surgeons can help with:

  • aneurysms
  • carotid artery disease
  • critical limb ischemia
  • lymphoedema
  • varicose veins
  • venous disease

Find your nearest NHS vascular surgery services.


Other GP referrals

Every week, adults aged 19 to 64 should undergo at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity in spells of 10 minutes or more. Regular exercise can help with weight loss and is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle.

GP referrals to the gym or a GP weight loss referral scheme may be offered depending on your health condition and local availability. This can allow you to join programs for free or at a reduced cost for a period of time.

What is a GP referral to exercise scheme?

An exercise referral scheme seeks to increase a person’s physical activity levels due to the wide range of positive health benefits that will ensue. The availability of exercise referral courses depends on where you live. If there’s not a GP referral to gym scheme in your area, follow this NHS get fit for free guide.

How to get a GP referral for the gym?

NICE guidelines suggest GP exercise referrals should only be funded when both criteria are met:

  • patients are inactive or sedentary
  • patients have existing health conditions or other factors that put them at increased risk of ill health

If you believe you meet both conditions, speak with your GP to see if there’s a GP gym referral scheme in your area.

How can my GP help with weight loss?

GP weight loss referral schemes may be available for free or at a reduced cost depending on your health condition and where you live. This can include NHS weight loss support groups or commercial groups run by companies like Slimming World or Weight Watchers. It is usually only for a given period of time but may vary depending on your area.

Can my GP prescribe weight loss pills?

If you haven’t lost sufficient enough weight after making changes to your diet and increasing exercise levels, your GP may prescribe Orlistat, a weight loss medicine. They will talk through your specific situation first to decide if this is an appropriate treatment for you.


Get a GP referral today

We’re on a mission to make healthcare more accessible and convenient. We have over 100 private doctor clinics across the UK - simply find your nearest one and see a GP today.

Our private doctors can write GP referrals as needed. We’ll email referrals to you same day so you can focus on what matters most - your health.

Where is your nearest clinic? And how can Medicspot help?

How it works

The Medicspot Clinical Station allows doctors to conduct a remote clinical examination and provide a safe, accurate diagnosis. Our doctors can then write GP referral letters as needed.

Find your nearest walk in centre.

Referral guideline

We offer a medical form/letter service and can help the majority of patients. When a doctor completes a medical form, letter or certificate, they are giving a professional opinion and making a statement of fact. This is a significant responsibility, and as healthcare professionals we take this responsibility very seriously.

We can complete forms in the following situations:

  • Where we are making statements that take into account the limitations of remote consultations
  • Where a simple statement of fact is being made and we have seen the evidence of that fact and there is no possibility that the information is incomplete.
  • A full print out of the patient’s medical records has been provided.
  • The statements being made are specific following the history taken and the examination completed
  • Most fitness to fly letter requests

What we cannot do:

  • Make general statements of a patient's current or past medical or mental health
  • Make statements that suggest that we have full access to the patient’s medical records, when we don’t
  • Download directly, a patient’s records from their GP
  • Undertake abdominal, full musculoskeletal, neurological or mental health assessments
  • Certify fitness to drive (for DVLA, councils, taxis and HGVs for example) or use a firearm


About the authors

Written by Dr Zubair Ahmed and Dr Abby Hyams. Last reviewed on 01/03/2019. Next review date 01/03/2022.

Dr Abby Hyams

Dr Abby Hyams grew up in Manchester and did her medical training in Bristol. She has been a GP for over ten years, many of them as a partner in an NHS practice in Hemel Hempstead. Dr Hyams loves being a GP because of the wide spectrum of people she encounters every day.

Dr Zubair Ahmed

Dr Zubair Ahmed is a GP and the Co-founder and CEO of Medicspot. He has been a doctor for 12 years after obtaining his medical degree from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. He worked across a wide array of specialities including cardiology, accident and emergency, and geriatrics before focusing his energies on becoming a General Practitioner.


This article is for general information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Medic Spot Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. In the event of an emergency, please call 999 for immediate assistance.