Skip links and keyboard navigation

Referral information

Referral Information

Catergorisation | Bulk Billed Clinics | SBAR | Health Insurance  What a patient should bring Where to send a your referral|

All referrals received by the Specialist Outpatients Department will be categorised by the Medical Officer responsible for the speciality based on the following criteria.

Category 1

Appointment within thirty (30) days is desirable; AND

  • Condition will require more complex or emergent care if assessment is delayed; AND
  • Condition will have significant impact on quality of life if care is delayed beyond thirty (30) days
  • Category 2

    Appointment within ninety (90) days is desirable; AND

  • Condition has potential to require more complex care if assessment is delayed; AND
  • Condition has the potential to have some impact on quality of life if care is delayed beyond ninety (90) days.
  • Category 3

    Appointment within 365 days desirable; AND

  • Condition unlikely to deteriorate quickly; AND;
  • Condition is unlikely to require more complex care if assessment is delayed beyond 365 days.
  • Note These categories do not apply to Maternity Services

     Urgent referrals  To arrange a VERY URGENT outpatient appointment, please phone the relevant hospital’s switchboard and ask to speak to the Registrar of the relevant specialty: 07 4226 0000

    Go to Toptop of page

    Bulk Billed Clinics
    Queensland Health’s public hospitals now offer private (bulk billed) services in many outpatient clinics. This means that your patient has the right to choose to be treated as a private patient at Cairns Hospital and can be bulk billed for the service with no gap.
    These funds will allow for the delivery of improved services to the local community and your patients.

    If seen as a bulk billed (private) patient, the benefits will be that
    • Your patients will have access to one of our staff specialists with right of private practice, and;
    • The consultation and investigations performed will be bulk billed at no cost to your patient.

    To refer your patient to a private (bulk billed) clinic, please address the referral to the relevant clinic listed, and include a named referral to one of our staff specialists with Right of Private Practice, either Option A or B. 
    Referrals will be in writing with sufficient information to enable informed determination of clinical urgency and acceptance of referrals will be subject to referral content, consideration of service location and patient status.

    Referrals that do not contain sufficient information to accurately categorise the level of clinical urgency cannot be accepted and will be returned to the referring practitioner for further detail.

    • The referring practitioner will assume the responsibility for clinical monitoring and communication to facilitate timely and appropriate clinical management of their patients registered on the Outpatient Service wait list who are awaiting initial consultation.
    • Referring practitioners will be asked to notify the hospital in writing of any changes to the patient’s clinical status. The need for subsequent re-categorisation will then be considered by the triaging clinician.
    • Referrals must be legible and signed by a registered medical practitioner or through the PKI function (whose name is legible to enable return letter as per Medicare regulations).
    • Results requested of investigations must accompany the referral correspondence.
    • Access to Outpatient Services is only possible through the lodgement of a written referral from a recognised referral source.
    • Scheduling beyond listed capacity must be annotated with the name of requesting Medical Practitioner and member of staff who made the booking.

     Prior to referring patients for consultation, referring practitioners may request access to:

    • Status of Specialist Outpatient Waiting Lists
    • Estimated Waiting Times

     By using the appropriate number listed under each speciality in the A-Z Speciality Listing on our website -

     When a decision is made to refer a patient to the Specialist Outpatient Department, the Named eReferral/Letter must be in writing (letter, facsimile or through eReferral Electronic Transfer), and as a minimum contain the following

    Go to Toptop of page

    SBAR Minimum Referral Requirements

    • Patient demographics including Medicare number, interpreter requirements and mobile phone contact number for SMS messaging
    • Patient’s mobile phone contact number and an alternate postal or contact address (if not the same as usual residence)


    • Presenting symptoms/observations (including evolution and duration, severity, impact of condition)
    • Physical findings
    • Co morbidities (Including Diabetes, cardiopulmonary, renal, obesity, (BMI) and details of any associated medical conditions which may affect the condition or its treatment
    • Results of relevant investigations (pathology, radiology, histology)
    • Current medications and doses, prescribed and over the counter (note any recent changes in drug therapy)
    • Relevant information about the patient’s condition such as previous medical/surgical treatment (include systemic and topical medications prescribed for the condition)
    • Relevant psychological and social issues including impact on:
      • Employment;
      • Education;
      • Home;
      • Activities of daily living –low/medium/high
    • Alerts (including Rx [sp anticoagulants, immunosuppressive], Allergies (drug/topical preparation)
    • Smoking, alcohol history, substance abuse

    Assessment and Recommendation

    • Reason for referral, expectations and needs (including the problem to be assessed, degree of loss of function, pain experienced)  

    Additional Requirements

    Individual specialties may require additional information to assist with assessment, diagnosis and treatment.

    Please ensure you check the information contained under the relevant specialty in the A-Z Specialty Listing on this website.

     Including all of the above information will assist in a thorough assessment of the referral to ensure appropriate future appointment scheduling.

    Go to Toptop of page

    Health Insurance
    Patients should be encouraged to seek personal advice on their Health insurance coverage, initially from their Health Insurance Fund. Further advice on the use of Private insurance, Workers Compensation, Veteran’s Affairs, Third Party, Interstate and Overseas coverage can be obtained by contacting Cairns Hospital.

    Cairns Hospital, The Esplanade
    PO Box 902, Cairns Qld 4870
    (07) 4226 0000

    Go to Toptop of page

    What the patient must bring to the Specialist Outpatient Department
    If a patient is referred to a Specialist Outpatient Department they must bring:
    • Their appointment letter,
    • Any test results, medical reports or scans,
    • A list of current medications,
    • Medicare Card
    • Any concession cards (eg Pension, Health Care, DVA, PBS Safety Net, ADF, etc) 

    Go to Toptop of page

    Where To Send Your Referral
    A written referral may be in the form of a letter, facsimile or other electronic medium. Electronic referrals should be received via a Secure Web Transfer (SWT). All referrals must be signed by the referring practitioner and for the purpose of the electronic signature a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) constitutes as a signature.

    Electronic Transfer
    : eReferral templates are available from the GPQ website. Please download the relevant hospital template to your practice management software then submit the completed eReferral through your messaging agent.

    : Please fax the referral using the appropriate number listed under each specialty clinic  website address

    By post to
    Cairns Hospital,
    The Esplanade
    PO Box 902,
    Cairns Qld 4870

    Go to Toptop of page

    Last updated: 27 August 2014