What is a specialist?
A specialist is a doctor who has done further training in a certain type of medicine or surgery. They can usually work in a small practice, clinic or surgery.
How can I see a specialist?
To see a specialist you must first get a referral from your GP. Remember you may need to pay some or all of the costs of seeing a specialist. If you are concerned about possible costs discuss this with your GP when getting your referral.
What will the specialist need from me?
When you make your appointment ask if you need to bring any medical records or other items such as x-rays.
Before your appointment, make a list any questions you have. Also find out what you can about your family’s medical history as this can help your specialist to identify your health issues.
During the appointment, be honest with your specialist about your concerns. Also remember to tell your specialist about any treatment you are having or medications you are taking.
You will also need to bring the referral letter from your GP to your appointment.
Do I have to pay to see a specialist?
Yes, you may need to pay for your specialist appointment. If you are not eligible for Medicare (external site) you will pay the full cost.
Some specialists may choose not to charge you for your appointment but will bulk bill instead. This means Medicare will pay for your appointment. It is the specialist’s decision whether to bulk bill a patient. Many GPs choose to bulk bill pensioners and Health Care Card holders.
If your doctor does not bulk bill, they will give you a patient account. Medicare will pay for some of the cost of your appointment and you pay the remainder to the specialists.
Remember to take your Medicare card (external site) to your appointment, and your Health Care Card (external site) if you have one.
Visit the Medicare website (external site) for more information on bulk billing, patient accounts and how to claim your benefit.
Can I complain about a specialist?
Yes, but you are encouraged to first talk with the specialist about your concerns.
If you are not satisfied with the outcome of this discussion, you can contact the Health and Disability Services Complaints Office (HaDSCO) which provides a free resolution service for complaints about health or disability services in Western Australia. Visit HaDSCO (external site) for more information about the complaints process.
You can also notify the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) about a GP’s conduct, health or performance. See the AHPRA website (external site) for more information.
This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.