You have been referred to a specialist by your GP or Optician Practice, what will happen next?

Your GP surgery or Optician Practice will complete a referral and send it through to our Referral Service Team.

They may also give you a letter to tell you that you have been referred.

The letter you are given will provide information as to what steps, if any, you need to take to activate your referral.

Your local Referral Service will then contact you by email or post and provide you with information on what to do next.

This process should normally happen within two working weeks of being referred.


Don’t worry if you haven’t heard anything during this time.

It may take up to two working weeks for our team to contact you so please do not be concerned if you haven’t heard anything during this time.

If you haven’t heard anything after two working weeks, or if you have any queries, we can be contacted by email:

Please email us, but if you can’t do this, you can call us on 0333 332 0051.


What do I need to do?

Once you receive a letter from us, it is important that you read the information we send you carefully in case you need to take action.

If action is required and you do not take it, your referral will eventually be cancelled. Once cancelled, you will need to start the referral process again.


New email referrals

BSW Referral Service have recently made changes to how they contact you. If you have been referred on the NHS and have given your email address to your GP Practice, the referral service will now contact you by email. View the new email letter template (PDF, 125KB)

If you don’t have an email address, we will continue to contact you by letter.

You can still call us or the National NHS e-Referral telephone line for support with this process.

Why have we made these changes?

  • We have found that when we make contact by email, more people respond and manage their referrals and they also do this sooner.
  • In line with the BSW Green Plan and Greener NHS, we are reducing the use of paper letters where possible.
  • There are also financial benefits for the NHS as there will be a reduction in postage and stationery costs as a result of this change
  • Evidence from the Office of National Statistics show that in 2019 email was used by 86% of adults, with 87% of adults accessing the internet daily.
  • Locally, the NHS app has been downloaded by at least 55% of the adult population
  • The NHS enables patients to manage and access much of their services digitally, via the NHS app, which in 2022 had been downloaded over 30 million times nationally.

We constantly review our processes, and we will share any changes to the email content via our webpage.