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After a consultation with a GP, you may be referred onward for investigation or treatment in the hospital

The waiting times for any NHS hospital services and appointments are not under the control of the Surgery

Further information on your hospital appointment, once a referral has been sent by the practice, can be obtained from the hospital directly by phoning and asking for the relevant outpatient appointments department:

BELFAST TRUST SWITCHBOARD (Royal Victoria, City, Musgrave, Mater Hospitals): 028 9024 0503

SOUTH EASTERN TRUST SWITCHBOARD (Ulster, Lagan Valley, Ards): 028 9048 4511

You can also phone these numbers to speak to the secretary of the consultant who is looking after your hospital care.


If you decide to avail of a private referral to a specialist, it is very important you read this section, as there are specific expectations of private providers and certain things that we can and cannot provide when you see a private provider.

What happens when you see a Consultant privately?

To prevent any misunderstanding we would like to take this opportunity to explain how the NHS and General Practice work alongside Private providers of care. All costs associated with private healthcare are yours and not funded by the NHS.


What do I need to do?

Your GP will write a referral letter if they feel this is appropriate and it will be available to collect from reception, this will include any relevant medical details about you. 

Please note that if an insurance company wishes for a specific form to be completed you will be charged for this additional work, and they should request this directly from us.

For patients who do not have a health insurance policy

If you do not have health insurance and wish to book directly with a private clinic, you often do not require a letter and can arrange the appointment as you wish. You should check in advance with the private provider the costs associated with doing this, and going forward. Do not forget, this includes the cost of any further investigations (like bloods or scans) they may wish to do.

You should contact the Consultant’s team or your Private Health Care Provider or Insurer to organise an appointment.


Should you have any questions regarding your appointment you should contact them directly.

Seeing the Consultant

What happens if I need a test or procedure?

If the Consultant thinks that you need any tests – including blood tests – or a surgical procedure, then the Consultant is responsible for:

  • Arranging tests and any medications that might be needed prior to the test, as well as explaining how and when you will receive a date for the test, and what to do if the date is not suitable for you;

  • Giving you your results and explaining what they mean. This may be via letter or a further face to face consultation.

Please do not contact the practice to discuss the results of tests organised by other doctors. It is the Consultant’s responsibility to discuss this with you, and the practice may not have access to the results, or be in a position to interpret them.

It is important to be aware that if a consultant requests further tests for you, that these are done privately and not in the practice.

In the immediate aftermath of any investigation or procedure, if you are having problems and wish to discuss this further, it should be with the private provider who performed the procedure, or their team.

What happens if I need new medicines?

The Consultant might suggest prescribing new medicines for you or might want to make changes to the medicines that you are already taking. They will be responsible for giving you the first prescription of any new medicine that you need to start taking straight away.


Please note if you take a private prescription to any NHS Pharmacy you will have to pay the actual cost of the medication.

In some cases, your GP may be able to continue to prescribe these medications on an NHS prescription. This will need to be considered by the practice and is at the discretion of the GPs.


Prior to this, a full clinic letter from the consultant is required, outlining the reasons for treatment, explaining the precise details of the prescription; what it is being used to treat; how long the treatment is intended for; and what monitoring or follow up is required before the practice can decide whether we can continue to prescribe.

If a drug recommended by the private consultant is an AMBER drug on the Northern Ireland Formulary (here), this means we cannot prescribe this medication unless we have a shared care agreement with an NHS hospital consultant. This is because there are monitoring requirements for these drugs. Shared care agreements can not happen between a private consultant and an NHS GP. This is particularly important for medicines that are used for ADHD, and other specialist medications. The private consultant would have to prescribe these medications for you, privately.

Please allow at least seven days to allow your consultation letter to arrive before contacting your GP.

If a prescription is needed sooner than this you should contact the Consultant’s team (usually via the secretary) for them to prescribe this medicine for you. 

Private consultants may suggest medications to patients which wouldn’t normally be prescribed by NHS GPs. If this is the case, you will need to continue to receive them from the Consultant. Please contact them directly to organise this.

Practice Prescribing Policy following private consults:

The Practice may not be able to issue you with an NHS prescription following a private consultation for the following reasons:

  • If the Practice considers that there is not a clear clinical indication for the prescription, and that in the same circumstances an NHS patient would not be offered this treatment

  • If the private doctor recommends a new or experimental treatment, or recommends prescribing a medication outside of its licensed indication or outside of our formulary recommendations

  • This includes all prescriptions outside recommended licensed doses or uses as per the British National Formulary (BNF)

  • If the medication is not generally provided within the NHS

  • If the medication is of a very specialised nature requiring ongoing monitoring we may be unable to accept responsibility for the prescription. This includes medication that we can prescribe on the NHS but requires what is known as a Shared Care

  • Without such a Shared Care Agreement in place with an NHS provider of care we are unable to safely prescribe and monitor certain medication. This would include, but is not limited to, what are known as Disease Modifying Drugs, IVF associated medications and those to treat ADHD

Therefore to maintain prescribing safety and quality, we are unable to accept Shared Care Agreements with private clinics of any sort, nor provide drug monitoring (blood tests, blood pressures, ECGs etc.) for private providers.


All such prescriptions will have to be provided and monitored by the clinic themselves, and we expect any legitimate private provider whose service necessitates blood testing and physiological measurement to have their own access to these facilities.

If we are unable to issue a NHS prescription you can still obtain the medication recommended via a private prescription from the consultant you have seen but we would recommend that you investigate the cost of this and associated monitoring before proceeding.

What happens if I need to transfer my care back to the NHS?

If after seeing the Consultant privately you want to be back under NHS care, national regulations allow for you to transfer back. This transfer ideally needs to be done by the private Consultant who is overseeing your care, and they are able to do this.

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