Do I need a referral from a GP?

Want to know if you need to be referred by a GP before you can see a private doctor or specialist? Read the top tips from to make sure you are well prepared.

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  • When you decide to go private, whether you have private medical insurance or are paying for yourself, your first step is normally to see your GP, who will write a referral letter for your appointment with a private specialist
  • Some private consultants and specialists are reluctant to see a patient unless there is a referral letter from your GP – they will communicate with your GP during your diagnosis and treatment
    Check with your preferred consultant’s private secretary to see if a GP referral is required – you can find contact details on
  • GP referral letters are not normally required for physiotherapy, health screening, cosmetic surgery and dentistry
  • Your GP will probably recommend a specialist, but you have the option to tell them which specialist you would like to see
Top tips:
  • Many private hospitals can arrange an appointment for you with a private GP in their outpatient department – find a private hospital on
  • When you see a GP, remember to ask them for a copy of the referral letter
  • Compare specialists on and ask your GP to refer you to a specific consultant

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