Being an outpatient

You’re an outpatient if you come to hospital for a day visit and aren’t being admitted.

At your appointment you’ll usually see a specialist doctor or a range of other healthcare professionals, or you may see both. You may also have an X-ray, procedure, or other tests.

Your appointment is free if you’re a public patient and have a Medicare card. You need your card at each appointment. There may be fees for some items provided as part of your treatment, such as:

  • pharmaceuticals
  • home oxygen
  • other aids and appliances.

If you’re not eligible for Medicare, you will have to pay for all outpatient services provided.

Getting an appointment

To get an outpatient appointment with a specialist, you’ll need to get a referral from your GP. The referral will be sent to us by the GP and will need to outline your medical condition.

We review your referral and assess how urgent it is based on the information provided by your doctor. This allows us to categorise it by clinical urgency. When we accept the referral, we will either give you an appointment or place you on the outpatient waiting list. The time you may have to wait for an outpatient appointment depends on the type of service you need and how urgent your condition is.

The waiting time also depends on how many other patients are also waiting for an appointment and how urgent their needs are. We'll send you a letter advising you of your categorisation and placement on the waiting list.

While you're waiting for your appointment, if your condition changes or you have concerns about your health, please contact your GP.

Specialists see patients in order of clinical urgency and receipt of referral. When it is your turn, you will get a letter with information about when and where to attend and what you need to do to prepare. You may also get notice of your appointment via text or phone call.

If your situation changes and you no longer need an appointment, it is very important for you to tell us. This helps us to make our outpatient waiting lists accurate. We can take your name off the waiting list so other patients can get their appointments sooner.

It is also important you tell us if your contact details change so we can contact you when an appointment is available.

Confirming your appointment

Once you get your appointment letter, you'll need to call the clinic and confirm your appointment. If you don't confirm your appointment, we may offer it to another person who is on the waiting list. If you can't attend your allocated appointment, please contact the outpatients department on 07 5202 2222 to cancel or reschedule your appointment.

If you need an interpreter during your appointment, call the hospital of clinic at least 2 weeks before your appointment to arrange one.

What to bring

On the day of your appointment please bring:

  • your Medicare card
  • your appointment letter and any questions you want to ask the doctor
  • any test results, reports and medical scans such as x-rays, bone scans or ultrasounds
  • a list of all your medications, including any herbal medications or dietary supplements
  • your private health insurance information, if you want to use it
  • your pension or concession card, if you have one
  • your GP contact details
  • your glasses, hearing aids, mobility devices
  • snacks, a drink or money to buy refreshments at one of our food outlets
  • money for parking
  • something to do while you wait.

Checking in for your appointment

We recommend that you arrive at the outpatient clinic approximately 15 minutes before your appointment time.

When you arrive, let reception know you're there and show them your appointment letter. They'll ask you to confirm your contact details and want to see your Medicare card and any concession cards. If you're a Veteran Affairs Card holder or WorkCover patient, please let the receptionist know.

The receptionist will give you a numbered ticket and direct you to a seating area near your clinic so you can wait. There are screens in the waiting area where your number will appear when the consultant is ready to see you. It's important to check the screens for your number so you don’t miss your appointment.

Your appointment

We always try to ensure that clinics run on time, however, due to unavoidable delays there may be a 2 to 3 hour wait to see a specialist. Please tell clinic staff if you can’t wait for your appointment.

Usually there are multiple clinics running at the same time. For this reason, you may notice that other patients called in ahead of you. This can happen because different clinics take different amounts of time to see patients.

At your first appointment your doctor will discuss your concerns and health care plan. You may require an examination or further tests. Your doctor will let you know if you require further appointments.

You can ask your doctor questions at any time during your appointment. If you don't understand what they're telling you, ask them to explain it again. As a patient, family member or carer, you may like to use these Choosing Wisely questions when you meet with your specialist.

  • What are the benefits?
  • What are the risks?
  • What are the alternatives?
  • What if I do nothing for care?
  • What are the service delivery options?

If you need a medical certificate for work, please ask your doctor during your appointment.

After your appointment

At the end of your appointment, please make sure you return to the reception desk to 'check out'. If you need another appointment the receptionist will either book this for you or let you know you’ll get an appointment letter.

If your doctor decides you need surgery, there will be some additional paperwork to fill out. You may also need to attend a further pre-anaesthetic appointment prior to going home. Once everything is complete you'll be added to the elective surgery wait list. You'll be sent a letter to confirm you're on the elective surgery wait list.

It's important to for us to have your most up-to-date contact details. Please contact us on 07 5202 2222 if any of your details have changed.

If you saw a specialist, they will report back to your GP with your results, diagnosis or treatment. Speak with your GP about the appointment.

Your GP may have more information for you and be able to help you with the next step of your treatment. Make sure you know how to take your medication or treatment. If you can't remember, ask your pharmacist or GP.

Last updated: December 2022