What Happens if GP Doesn't Know Anything?

At the moment there's something wrong with my throat, went to see a GP and she quickly looked in my mouth and simply said "I don't know what it is, can't see anything", then gave me a referral letter to see an ENT. The consultation was literally done in 1 minute.

I was wondering, do I actually need to pay if the GP doesn't know anything? Earning $70 within 1 minute by saying not sure what it is simply seems ridiculous to me. Or shouldn't there at least be a "writing a referral letter only" pricing?

Also, can I see a specialist in Australia without seeing a GP first? (I don't have Medicare, but do have Medibank)
As in Taiwan (where I'm from) I can just go straight to an ENT without going through a GP, and the consultation would cost $5, not quite sure if I can see an ENT without seeing a GP here as well?


  • +4

    One does not actually need a GP referral to see a specialist in Australia, however if the patient requires Medicare to pay them a rebate to assist covering the cost when visiting a specialist, a GP referral needs have been obtained by the patient first.

    I think this may also be the case with MediBank cover — the referral letter must be attached as part of your insurance claim.

    For an ENT I do believe they actually require you to have a referral letter to make an appointment. Otherwise, if you simply rock up because you have self-diagnosed (incorrectly) you will have wasted the specialist's time. You must have seen a doctor first, have them check you out and then dispense a letter for you to take to the ENT.

    • +1 to this. I doubt you would find an ENT who would see you without a GP referral. It's usually one of the first things the receptionist will ask about when you ring up to make an appointment. And as Scrimshaw says, if you don't have a referral, you can't get a Medicare rebate, although it seems from your post that you're not eligible for Medicare? if that's the case, there'd been no problem going to see an ENT without a referral (if you can find one who will give you an appointment) but you would probably end up having to pay the full cost yourself anyway - and it would be a LOT more than $5!!! As far as I'm aware, most (if not all) private health funds will not pay any rebate for a consultation at a specialist's rooms.

      Oh and yes, you do need to pay, regardless of whether your GP actually treats (or knows anything about) your condition. You used to be able to get referrals (as long as your GP already knew about your condition), repeat prescriptions etc written at little or no cost in years gone by, but these days, many GPs will insist on seeing you which can sometimes be for only a minute or so and then they can charge it as a consultation. And as many don't bulk bill any more (not in Perth anyway), even if you do get a Medicare rebate, there's still a $30-$40 out of pocket expense.

      • As above, $70 seems a bit high to me. I would find a doctor that doesn't charge as much. I've never been charged any higher than $40~50 for a GP visit.

        • I agree, $70 is too high, but unfortunately it seems to be the going rate around here for GPs. Some charge closer to $80. it's ridiculous when you only have to be in there for a minute (or less). I have to go for an injection every 3 months (not for a medical condition as such, so something that needs monitoring or anything) and most of the GPs don't even do it themselves - it's "come on in, sit down, hi how are you, here for your injection? Ok, go down the hallway and see the practice nurse" so I'd be in the room with the GP for barely 30 seconds - and then on the way out it's "$70 please" for that so-called consultation!! It's an absolute sort, if you ask me.

          Thankfully a big new bulk-billing clinic opened up recently in the Perth northern suburbs - it's further away than the GP I was seeing (25km round-trip compared to 10km), but the doctors there (as well as the range of available services) are really good and I sure as heck don't spend $30-$40 in petrol getting there and back!! They're also open 7 days a week and I can book appointments online, and they also have a "walk-in" service where you can be seen very quickly without an appointment if it's something urgent.

        • $70 is super cheap on the Gold Coast. Local doc is $93.

  • Some doctors are lazy and find the easy solution to most problems is to hand over a referral!
    Doctors' training is also fairly narrow (allopathic…… some of them are not well informed
    Sometimes it is easier and cheaper to consult a pharmacist for basic advance (sore throat, etc.)

    • this is not true. A general practitioner is a specialist consultant trained as a first line responder. They are expected to recognize and refer cases that are out of their realm of expertise in this case a throat pathology.

      Allopathic medicine is evidence-based medicine.. that is scientifically well-informed. Homeopathy on the other hand is a pseudoscience that quite literally . does not work.

      • Looks like I hit a nerve! Allopathic medicine is mostly about covering symptoms with chemicals (drugs) and very little about treating causes or striving for actual wellness.

  • Bulk billing doctors, they are still around

  • Try this. Find a bulk billing GP nearby, then choose an appointment time.