If you have a skin problem then you might want to see a dermatologist to find out what’s wrong or to get specialist care. It’s easy to make an appointment with a dermatologist in London, but there are several different routes you can take. One option is to see a GP first in order to get a referral. What does this involve and do you have to do it before you can see a skin specialist?
What is a Referral?
A referral is simply a recommendation from a GP that you should see a particular type of specialist. You might be referred to a consultant doctor, such as a dermatologist or cardiologist. You can also be referred to other types of medical specialists, such as a physiotherapist or dietician, rather than to another doctor.
Your GP might make a referral if you need extra help that they aren’t able to provide. For example, they might not be able to diagnose a specific skin infection or you might need a treatment that isn’t available through GP clinics. You might also be referred to a specialist if your GP has diagnosed a condition that will require additional or ongoing care.
You can also ask your GP for a referral if you want to see a specialist. You might do this if you want to get a second opinion or if you would prefer to be treated by a consultant. You could also ask for one if you want to explore additional treatment options, such as phototherapy, that are only available through dermatologists.
The referral itself will usually come in the form of a referral letter, which will include all of the information that your specialist needs to know. Your GP might include details of your symptoms, your medical history and any tests or treatments you’ve already had. This information will help the specialist to understand what’s wrong and can prevent you from having to go through the same tests again.
Make sure that you bring this letter with you when you attend your first consultation with the dermatologist. It contains useful information to guide your care and it can be important to present the referral if you are intending to pay for your care with health insurance.
How to Get a Referral?
All it takes to get a referral is a visit to a GP. It is best to see your usual GP as they will have all of your medical records and be most familiar with your needs. Letting your GP know that you’re seeing a specialist can also be a good idea because it will keep them up to date with your care. The skin specialist will also provide a report for your GP (with your permission) to let them know about your diagnosis and treatment. This information can be shared even if you didn’t get a referral.
You can make a GP appointment in order to ask for a referral to a particular type of specialist. You might also be given a referral when you see your GP if they think that you need to see an expert. Either way, the doctor will probably talk to you about your symptoms and may recommend trying certain tests or treatments first. You can then be sent on to a specialist if necessary.
Your GP does not have to provide a referral if they don’t think it is appropriate. For example, if they can perform the treatment themselves then they will probably recommend that you get treated at the GP clinic instead of wasting your time in visiting another doctor. If you disagree with this decision then you can ask for a second opinion from another GP.
You won’t be charged for a referral letter to a private clinic if you see an NHS GP, but you will be expected to pay the usual fees if you make an appointment with a private GP.
Routes to Seeing a Skin Specialist
If you want to see a dermatologist in London then you have three options. The best route for you will depend on whether you want to see a private specialist and if you are using health insurance to cover your care.
- Go through the NHS:
The first option is to see your GP and get a referral to an NHS specialist. You won’t have to pay for your care, but it can take a long time to get an appointment this way. The waiting list for dermatology appointments in London can be up to18 weeks (unless it is for suspected skin cancer), which is a long time if you’re suffering from pain or irritation. You won’t be able to choose where you go for your appointment or which skin specialist you will see. This route might not be suitable if you want a treatment or service that the NHS can’t provide, such as cosmetic mole removal.
- Get a Referral to a Private Dermatologist:
The second option is to see a GP and then visit a private dermatologist. You can go to either an NHS or a private GP in order to get a referral letter. You will then be able to take this to your private dermatologist when you make your appointment. You’ll get to choose which doctor you see and you’ll get the care you need as quickly as possible. This is usually the best option if you want to use health insurance to pay for your treatment. Some insurance companies will only cover your care if you get a referral first, so it’s important to check your policy before you see a specialist.
- Make Your Appointment Directly:
The third route you can take is simply to go directly to the specialist. You don’t need to get a referral in order to see a dermatologist, so there’s no need to see another doctor first. This is the quickest way to see a skin specialist in London, so it can be a good option as long as you don’t need a referral to satisfy your insurance provider.
Which route do you want to take?