In-house referral: A primary care alternative to immediate secondary care referral?

Paul Kinnersley*, Frances Maggs Rapport, Penny Owen, Nigel Stott

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Methods are needed to ensure that those patients referred from primary to secondary care are those most likely to benefit. In-house referral is the referral of a patient by a general practitioner to another general practitioner within the same practice for a second opinion on the need for secondary care referral. Objective. To describe whether in-house referral is practical and acceptable to patients, and the health outcomes for patients. Methods. Practices were randomized into an intervention or a control group. In intervention practices, patients with certain conditions who were about to be referred to secondary care were referred in-house. If the second clinician agreed referral was appropriate the patient was referred on to secondary care. In control practices patients were referred in the usual fashion. Patient satisfaction and health status was measured at the time of referral, 6 months and one year. Results. Eight intervention and seven control practices took part. For the 177 patients referred in-house, 109 (61%) were judged to need referral on to secondary care. For patient satisfaction, the only difference between the groups studied was that at 12 months patients who had been referred in-house reported themselves as being more satisfied than those referred directly to hospital. For health status, the only difference found was that at the time of referral, patients who had been referred in-house and judged to need hospital referral reported themselves as being less able on the 'Physical function' subscale of the SF-36 than patients who were referred in-house and judged to not need hospital referral. Conclusion. In-house referral is acceptable to patients and provides a straightforward method of addressing uncertainty over the need for referral from primary to secondary care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)558-561
Number of pages4
JournalFamily Practice
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • General practice
  • Hospital referral
  • Primary care
  • Secondary care


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