Being an outpatient

You’re an outpatient if you come to hospital for a scheduled appointment or a day visit but you aren’t admitted.

At your appointment you may see a specialist or other healthcare professionals.

Your appointment is free if you’re a public patient and have a Medicare card. You'll need to bring your card to each appointment.

Find out more about health care costs, insurance and financial support.

Getting an appointment

You need an appointment to visit an outpatient clinic.

The first step is to get a referral from your GP. If your GP thinks you should see a specialist, they'll send a referral to the hospital.

All referrals go in order based on how urgent each patient's condition is. You'll go on a waiting list with other patients who need to see a specialist.

The outpatient clinic will assess the referral and you'll get an appointment if it's needed.

If you have any questions about your referral, you can call the hospital and ask to talk to the outpatients unit.

Before your appointment

  • You’ll be contacted with your appointment details
  • Make sure you know the date, time, and where you need to go
  • Plan your trip—how to get to the hospital or clinic, parking or public transport
  • If you need an interpreter, call the hospital or clinic at least 2 weeks before your appointment to arrange one
  • You can bring a family member or friend to the appointment
  • The Choosing Wisely Australia website has a list of questions you could ask about your test, treatment or procedure

What to bring

On the day of your appointment please bring:

  • your appointment letter
  • any test results, reports and medical scans such as x-rays, bone scans or ultrasounds
  • medications and dietary supplements needed during your visit
  • your Medicare card
  • pension or concession card, if you have one
  • your GP contact details
  • something to do while you wait.

Your appointment

Arrive ahead of your appointment time and check in with staff. They’ll check your details, ask to see your Medicare or pension card and direct you to the waiting area.

We do our best to stay on schedule, but delays can happen. Your doctor may need to discuss a complicated treatment or diagnosis with another patient. Please tell clinic staff if you can’t wait for your appointment.

There may be other medical staff in the room when you see the doctor, including medical and nursing students. Your doctor will introduce them and ask if you’re willing to let them observe.

You can ask your doctor questions at any time during your appointment. If you don't understand what you're being told, ask the doctor to explain it again.

After your appointment

Remember to speak with your GP about the appointment. If you saw a specialist, your specialist should report back to your doctor with your results, diagnosis or treatment.

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: April 2023