How to get referred

Lots of people contact the hospital asking for how to be referred to see our doctors. This page explains the process you need to follow. We cannot accept referrals from anyone who is not a doctor and as we do not have an Accident and Emergency Department at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), you should not come here unless you have an appointment or an admission.

Referral for treatment under the NHS

You will need to be referred by your current doctor. This may be your local paediatrician or occasionally, your GP may be able to refer you. Your current doctor will need to write a referral letter, giving brief details of your child's condition and send it to the relevant doctor here at GOSH.

Our doctors here will read the referral letter and decide whether they think treatment at GOSH is appropriate. If so, we will write to send you a date for an outpatient appointment in the first instance.

If you are currently living outside of the UK and do not know if you are entitled to NHS treatment, please see our section on overseas patients below.

Choose and Book

What is Choose and Book?

The NHS is introducing a new way of being referred to hospital for treatment, which will change the way your child is referred here for an appointment. The idea behind Choose and Book is that the patient and family will have a choice of where they are treated and when.

This means that you can make an appointment immediately for a convenient time, rather than wait to receive a letter from the hospital. Another advantage is that arrangements will be made using a computer or the telephone so there is less chance of letters getting lost or misdirected.

How does it work?

When you go to see your family doctor (GP) and a referral is suggested, you will be able to discuss your options there and then. Your family doctor will give you a “booking reference number” and password, a list of available hospitals and the telephone numbers for the service you require.

Booking your appointment

Once you have discussed your choices, you can either ask your family doctor or someone else in the practice to ring your chosen hospital on your behalf or ring them yourself when you get home. You will then be able to find out which appointment slots are available and book a convenient appointment. Once the appointment is booked, your chosen hospital will send you a letter confirming the details of your appointment.

How will it work at GOSH?

As GOSH is a specialist children's hospital, the choices available are more limited than at your local hospital. For instance, we only carry out tonsillectomy (removal of tonsils) operations on children who have other medical conditions and require more specialist care.

In most cases, your first referral will be to a specialist children's doctor at a local hospital, who will then refer you to GOSH if needed. There are only a few circumstances where your family doctor can refer your child directly to GOSH and he or she will explain these to you.

With all referrals, the doctor at GOSH might suggest treatment at another hospital if it is more appropriate. If this is the case, your family doctor will contact you to re-arrange the appointment at another hospital.

Can I change an appointment once it's been booked?

If you wish to change or cancel an appointment you will need to ring your chosen hospital quoting your 'booking reference number' and password. The telephone number to ring will be on the confirmation letter. As with all appointments, please tell us as soon as possible if you can no longer attend. If we have enough notice, we can offer the appointment to another child.

Keeping your personal information safe

Everyone working in the NHS already has a legal duty to keep your personal information safe. There are several extra safeguards built into the Choose and Book system. For example, any staff booking or viewing appointments will have to have a 'chip and pin' card before they can look at any patient details. Each member of staff will only be able to look at the information they need to do their job and nothing else.

Referrals for overseas patients

There are various criteria laid out by the UK government that we have to follow before we accept a referral for a patient living outside the UK. A brief overview follows, but if you have any questions, please contact our Contracts Department on +44 20 7829 8859 or email Mr Jean-Pierre Machado at

Within the European Economic Area (EEA)

Patients coming to GOSH for planned treatment should send a referral letter and obtain permission from their social security institution to seek treatment in the UK. Once permission is approved the patient will be issued with an E112 or S2 form, which needs to be received by GOSH two weeks before the admission or appointment. This form confirms that the patient’s home government agrees to cover all treatment costs for that episode.

Patients coming to GOSH in an emergency will have all treatment costs covered if they produce a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). If the patient cannot show their EHIC card, they may instead produce a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) to prove entitlement under the EU regulations.

Outside the European Economic Area (EEA)

Non EEA patients will be liable for all charges unless they can provide evidence that any of the exemptions apply to them.

British Overseas Territories

Patients living in British Overseas Territories, such as the Falkland Islands, St Helena or the British Virgin Islands, should be referred by a local paediatrician to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in the UK. The referral will then be sent to the Contracts Department at GOSH for consideration.

British Nationals living abroad

NHS care is free of charge to everyone who resides in the UK on a permanent and settled basis, independent of their nationality. Having British Nationality, a UK passport, NHS number, GP registration and paid or paying national contributions does not qualify someone to free NHS care automatically.

Please note: Members of the British Armed Forces or British Diplomatic Service based overseas are entitled to free NHS treatment.

For full information about exemptions, please read the NHS charging regulations document. 

Referral for private treatment

Your doctor should send a copy of a recent medical report in English to the International and Private Patients (IPP) department. Our doctors will read the report and we will then contact you. This may include an admission or appointment date, the name of the consultant and details of how you can pay for any appointments and treatment.

Find out more information about the Harris International Patient Centre.