The Victorian and Tasmanian Primary Health Network Alliance (VTPHNA) is working with the Victorian Government’s Department of Health to raise awareness of a new policy that outlines the department’s expectations regarding access to non-admitted specialist services.
More information is available in this news article. The table below outlines the most important parts of the policy for GPs.
All non-admitted specialist services must be available as a public consultation provided in public rooms.
All follow-up, non-admitted specialist services, after a public admission to the health service must be provided as a public consultation provided in a public room.
Local policies must not prevent patients from accessing free public hospital non-admitted specialist services.
A referral to a named medical specialist must not be used as a prerequisite for access to non-admitted specialist services.
Within 8 working days of receiving a valid referral the Victorian public health service must inform the patient in writing, using their preferred method of correspondence available from the health service, if the referral has been:
If the referral is accepted, but an appointment is not yet scheduled, the health service must inform the patient in writing about the expected waiting time, based on current wait or clearance times for the service, for an appointment. For example, an appointment will be available in a specified number of months. (Also see section 7.2.)
Victorian public health services must communicate with referring clinicians using their preferred methods of written and verbal communication from the options available at the health service.
6.4.1 Incomplete referrals
Referrals that are incomplete or do not have the required information to assess the referral, must not be accepted.
The Victorian public health service must notify the referring clinician in writing of this decision within 8 working days of the health service receiving the referral request.
Where a referral is incomplete but likely to be categorised as ‘high priority’, the referring clinician should be contacted verbally for the remaining information so the referral can be assessed immediately.
6.4.2 Complete referrals
Within 8 working days of receiving a valid referral the Victorian public health service must inform the referring clinician in writing:
Access management impacts the Victorian public health service’s ability to manage non-admitted specialist services. It begins when a referral is received and should be performed by people with the required skill set and authority.
Victorian public health services are strongly recommended to support electronic referral within the health service, between health services and from external clinicians.
After a referral has been accepted additional/initial clinical assessments may be required to identify the patient’s current or ongoing needs, or to identify an individualised care plan, or both.
While a referral may be addressed to a specific non-admitted specialist service there may be instances when another service is more appropriate to meet the patient’s needs. To streamline care,health services should direct referrals internally to the most appropriate non-admitted specialist service available. For example, a referral to a medical clinic may be directed to a multidisciplinary service, or a referral to a specific campus may be directed to a service at another campus.
All services must be available as a public consultation provided in public rooms and referral to a named medical specialist must not be used as a prerequisite for access to non-admitted specialist services. Referrals should be addressed to the clinical service rather than individual clinicians at the health service.
7.2 Referral acceptance and clinical prioritisation
The following must not be used as reasons for not accepting referrals that meet statewide referral criteria or local clinical criteria:
Within 5 working days from the date the patient is discharged from the non-admitted specialist service the health service must provide a written clinical handover to the referring clinician, the patient and the patient’s nominated GP (unless the patient indicates they do not want to receive this information)
Read the full policy
Visit the Victorian Department of Health website to read the full policy.
For more information visit HealthPathways
Your local HealthPathways or care pathways site includes statewide specialist criteria to support GPs to submit successful referrals to specialist services in Victorian hospitals.
If you are experiencing issues with referrals to your local hospital, please email the general practice liaison officer.