How to Write a GP Referral Letter
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How to Write a GP Referral Letter

Writing referral letters is a part of the job when you’re a general practitioner, but it can be time consuming. Even when you’re busy, it’s important not to skip over your referral letters – good referral letters can make all the difference when your patient visits another medical specialist.

writing referral letter

Whether you’re looking for a second opinion on a patient’s condition, or you’re handing over the primary care of the patient to a specialist, a good referral letter can go a long way. Knowing what to put in your referral letter can help speed the process up and ensure that as a referring doctor, you’ve included all necessary information.

What makes a good referral letter?

A good referral letter is clear and easy to understand. It sums up the reason for the referral and includes any other relevant medical history. Effective referral letters contain enough information for the other healthcare provider to be able to provide high quality care, but not so much information they are overwhelmed.

Many practitioners struggle to know how to write a good referral, and it can be difficult to know what information to include and what to leave out. The good news is that even if your written communication skills aren’t perfect, you can still learn how to write a good referral letter.

What to include in your referral letters

According to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), there is some information that must be included in all referrals:

  • Your name and contact details as the referring practitioner – including the general practice address.
  • Any relevant medical history
  • Any allergies, current medications or previous adverse drug reactions
  • Correct patient information including name, date of birth and at least one other identifier
  • The purpose of the referral.

If you’re not sure how to write a GP referral letter, there are plenty of templates available online that can show you the layout and general format.

writing referral letter

What not to include in a referral letter

The referral letter should not contain sensitive medical information that is not relevant to the reason for the referral. The referring doctor should also make sure the information provided is clear and communicated in a way that will be easy to understand – a lot of unnecessary information can be confusing and may distract from the real issue.

A good referral letter: building a bridge between primary and secondary care 

Referral letters are the link between a patient’s general practitioner and other healthcare providers. This means it’s essential to get them right and ensure they contain all relevant information pertaining to the patient’s healthcare condition, medical history and any current medications or treatments they’ve tried.

With a well written referral letter, you can help ensure your patients get appropriate care, and the best treatment from the specialists you refer them to.

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