Specialist Outpatients FAQs
Below is a range of Specialist Outpatients frequently asked questions. Find out more about Specialist Outpatients clinics at BHS.
Your GP or health care provider is required to provide a written referral to the Ballarat Health Services Specialist outpatient clinics. Referrals are accepted for patients requiring specialist consultation for elective and non-emergency treatment.
Once your referral has been received one of our Specialist will review your referral and you will be contacted by our team.
Referrals to our specialists may be written for 12 months, indefinite or for 3 months.
If your referral has expired the specialist clinic staff will ask you to go back to your GP or referring specialist to get your referral renewed.
All patients are encouraged to have a GP. While specialists deal with a specific aspect of your health, usually for a limited period of time, it is important to have someone who knows about all of your health needs.
The GP is usually the first person you see when you want help or advice about a health condition, and the person who will help you to manage your health when you either no longer need specialist care or are in-between visits to a specialist. This can be very important in helping you stay well and making sure any new health problems or complications are diagnosed and treated as early as possible.
BHS recommends registering for “My Health Record”, it contains a summary of your health information. If you tend to move around “My health record” is good way to keep your medical information together to present information to your non-regular GP’s. Having information in your My Health Record will allow other healthcare providers participating in the “My Health Record” system to view this information when they provide you with healthcare.
There is a waiting list for Specialist Outpatient Clinics, appointments are booked by priority, this ensures patients are seen in a timely manner for their condition.
Once an appointment is allocated you will be notified by SMS, letter or telephone. You may also receive other letters relating to your appointment; for example some doctors may request that you have tests completed prior to your appointment, such as X-rays or blood tests.
Referrals to outpatient clinics are declined when patient data and medical information is incorrect, mismatched or is inadequate to ascertain the service need. In all circumstances, contact will be made with your GP or yourself from the contact information BHS has on file.
Please assist us by contacting us as soon as possible when receiving correspondence from Outpatient services that requires additional information. Alternatively, contact your GP, your information can then be forwarded to us from there
Demand for public hospital outpatient services is growing and waiting lists for most specialties are lengthy. BHS will prioritise urgent patients and endeavours to see routine ailments as quickly as possible. You may want to discuss waiting times with your GP and discuss alternative options.
If you have been placed on a waiting list and your condition worsens, please contact your GP or go to emergency.
Before your appointment, please ensure that you:
- obtain any test results needed for your appointment
- make a list of any medications or dietary supplements that you take
- write down any questions that you have for the doctor (it is often helpful to do this beforehand).
Importantly, please arrange to let us know if you require an interpreter before your appointment.
On the day of your appointment, please bring:
- the appointment letter you received from the specialist outpatient clinics
- any relevant X-rays, scans (CT or ultrasound), blood tests or other test results
- the list of current medications you are taking
- your Medicare card, DVA card, pension card (if you have one) or any other concession cards you hold
- TAC or Work Cover claim number and case manager details
- your GPs address and phone number
- any medication or dietary supplements you may require during your visit
- toys or books for children who are attending the clinic with you.
You are welcome to bring a friend, relative or carer with you to your specialist appointment.
If you need someone to care for you at home, it is important that your carer comes with you to the appointment.
If you are cared for in a nursing home, it is preferred that a member of the nursing home staff attends the specialist outpatient clinic appointment with you.
It is recommended that you allow up to two hours for your appointment. All patients are given a specific appointment time. There may be more than one patient with a particular appointment time because there will be more than one staff member working in the clinic at that time.
Although appointments are for a set time, delays can occur. The staff may be delayed by needing to discuss a complicated treatment or diagnosis with a patient, or they may be required urgently in other parts of the hospital. Should any such delays occur, you will be kept informed by the clinic staff. Another appointment can be arranged for you in the event that you are unable to wait for your appointment.
Plan to arrive ten minutes before your allocated appointment to allow time to complete any necessary paperwork, especially at your first visit.
The number of appointments you will need will depend on the reason for your referral. From your appointment you may need to have additional tests or a procedure as an outpatient or as an inpatient which will require a hospital stay. Specialist outpatient clinics are usually provided only for the amount of time that you need the expert care or opinion of a specialist doctor. The doctor you see in the clinic will discuss how many times you will need to attend the clinic.
You may be discharged back to the care of your GP or another community service when you no longer need to attend the specialist outpatient clinic.
Ballarat Health Services has a “non-attendance” policy, if you do not attend two consecutive appointments without letting us know your referral will be closed. If you wish to use BHS specialist outpatient clinics a new referral will be required from your GP to organise another appointment.
We will exercise discretion on a case-by-case basis to avoid disadvantaging patients in genuine hardship, and unavoidable circumstances
You can cancel or change your appointment by filling in this online form or by phoning us on 03 5320 4221.
You can update your details by filling in this online form or by phoning us on 03 5320 4221.
You can cancel your referral by filling in this online form or by phoning us on 03 5320 4221.
You can close a patient's referral by filling in this online form or by phoning us on 03 5320 4221.
Find out more about Specialist Outpatients clinics at BHS here.
Have something to tell us? We welcome all feedback from patients, family members or carers. Tell us more.