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Specialists Referrals

Access to specialist health services in the New Zealand public health system is controlled by a process of referral by health practitioners authorised to do so, this includes the GPs at Riccarton Clinic. We maintain excellent links with specialists in public and private practice in Christchurch and will make a referral to them even if you do not normally see a doctor at Riccarton Clinic.

The public health system referral process should get you the consultations you need to diagnose and treat your condition, whatever specialist you need to see. The specialist may refer you on to another speclialist if your condition is outside of their scope or if further testing/investigation is required. The referral will normally be to the specialist clinic at a public hospital and the consultation, and any subsequent laboratory tests, X-rays or scans ordered by the specialist will be free of charge to you. The specialist may refer you back to your doctor with information for them on how to manage your condition.

The only other source of specialist advice is to pay for private consultations from specialists in private practice. You may have private medical insurance and your insurer will advise you on which specialists they have a relationship with.

The hospital should inform you and your GP within ten days about whether you will see a specialist. If you do need to see a specialist, DHBs should provide your appointment within four months of the day the hospital received your referral. Your GP (or primary care provider) will continue caring for you while you wait for your specialist appointment.

The specialist will assess your condition and recommend the best option of care for you. There are a number of possible outcomes depending on how urgent your condition is and what resources the hospital has available. The specialist may even decide that a service is not available to you, even though you would benefit from it. If this happens, you and your GP (or primary care provider) will be informed, and they will discuss with you your best options of care.