Being an outpatient

You’re an outpatient when you come to our hospitals or health centres for an appointment with a doctor, specialist, other clinician or clinic.

Sometimes, these appointments are to prepare for a hospital admission.

Our outpatient clinics also provide more routine medical services across Far North Queensland.

Getting an appointment

You'll need an appointment to visit an outpatient clinic.

If your GP thinks you should see a specialist, they’ll write you a referral letter. This will be sent directly to the hospital.

The first step is to get a referral from your GP.

All referrals are categorised based on the urgency of your condition and you'll be placed on a waiting list.

The clinic specialists will assess the referral and you’ll be scheduled for an appointment if needed.

Each hospital or specialist clinic has its own process for assessing urgency, accepting referral letters and making appointments. Ask your clinic for more information on how your referral will be handled.

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
  • Plan and list questions for your doctor or specialist, including how much it will cost

If you're not eligible for Medicare, you'll need to pay for your appointment before you come in. Make sure you bring your receipt with you on the day of your appointment.

What to bring

On the day of your appointment please bring:

  • your Medicare card
  • pension or concession card, if you have one
  • your appointment letter
  • any test results, reports and medical scans such as x-rays, bone scans or ultrasounds
  • a list of all current medications — including vitamins, herbal treatments and supplements
  • medications and dietary supplements required during your visit
  • 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. You 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.

If your appointment was because of a work injury or illness, ask your doctor to fill in a Work Capacity certificate so you can make a claim.

After your appointment

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

Your GP may have further 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: May 2024