Department of Health

Access to non-admitted services in Victoria

The Victorian public hospital or health service system provides health care and professional expertise that is unavailable in the primary and community health area. This includes non-admitted specialist services which provide millions of appointments to Victorians each year.

For a list of specialist clinic locations, see Public hospital specialist clinics - locations.

Equitable, improved and timely access to non-admitted specialist services for people who need them is essential to enable Victorians to receive early advice on their treatment options.

Managing access policy to non-admitted specialist services

The Managing referrals to non-admitted specialist services in Victorian public health services policy authorises Victorian public health services to develop relevant local policies, protocols and procedures to manage referrals to the range of non-admitted specialist services including Health Independence Program (HIP) services.

The policy has five objectives:

  • To state a patient-centred approach is required when decisions are made about what services are provided, when they are available, how they are accessed and that care should be designed around the patient’s needs, not funding streams
  • Identifies the roles and responsibilities of the department, health services, referring clinicians and patients
  • Describes the department’s expectations about equity of access to non-admitted specialist services for Victorians as outlined in the ‘purpose’
  • Promotes equitable access to appropriate services so that patients are treated in turn, based on their clinical need, related psychosocial factors and any disparities in access to health care
  • Supports Victorian public health services to develop and implement local guidelines, protocols and procedures, including collaborative and shared service delivery models between health services and improved integration with primary care.

Referral requests should include the minimum mandatory referral information for the request to be accepted, directed to the most appropriate service and clinically prioritised, see Specialist services minimum referral information.

Statewide referral criteria

The department has published and continues to develop statewide referral criteria for cliniciansExternal Link to assist GPs and clinicians in referring patients to non-admitted specialist services. These referral criteria have been developed to improve access to these services in public hospitals by improving the quality and appropriateness of referrals.

The statewide referral criteria ensure that:

  • patient referrals are assessed against the same criteria in all Victorian public hospital
  • referral and communication processes between referring clinicians and non-admitted specialist services are improved
  • referring clinicians know when a referral to a public non-admitted specialist service is required and the information that should be included in the referral.
  • non-admitted specialist services have the right information on the referral documentation to assess and accept the referral.

Reviewed 31 January 2023


Contact details

Program and policy enquiries for the Special Clinics Program

Specialist Clinics Program Department of Health & Human Services

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