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Frequently Asked Questions

One in 10 patients fail to attend their outpatient appointment.

This causes delays not only in treating you, but in treating other patients too. If you fail to attend your appointment  you may be discharged from the Outpatient Clinic. This means that for you to return to clinic a new referral letter will be required.

Our call centre is very busy and you may experience delays. Please check if your question is answered below prior to calling.

Your referral to the JHH Outpatient Service

How do I get an appointment in the JHH Outpatient Clinics?

Appointments for the JHH Outpatient Clinics are by referral from your GP, specialist, other health professional or as requested prior to discharge from hospital. In the referral letter, information will have been provided about the reason for your referral.

A health professional reviews the referral and prioritises your appointment based on this information. You might receive an appointment date straight away or be placed on a waiting list to receive an appointment at a later date.

If your appointment is delayed, you may wish to speak to the person who referred you to discuss other treatment options. If your condition changes or you have any health problems while waiting for your appointment, please see your GP or the person that referred you.

What happens after my GP sends in my referral?

Once we receive your referral into our system it is processed by our administrative team. We receive a lot of referrals, so we ask that you allow up to 2 weeks for this process to occur before contacting us.

Your referral is then looked at by one of our specialist clinicians who decides how urgent your issue is and the timeframe in which you should be seen.

We will let you and your referring doctor know the outcome.

You might receive an appointment date straight away or be placed on a waiting list to receive an appointment at a later date. Our staff will contact you with the date and time of your appointment. You may be contacted by phone, email, a text message and/or in writing.

How long will I wait for an appointment?

There is high demand for appointments in the JHH Outpatient Service. While we strive to see all patients as quickly as possible, it is likely that you will have to wait for a period of time before you are offered an appointment.

How long you have to wait for an outpatient appointment may depend on how urgent your condition is, how many people are already waiting for an appointment when you are added to the waiting list, and the availability of our specialist clinicians to treat patients with your condition.

Patients with potential life threatening conditions will be prioritised and the referrer should phone the appropriate clinicians as well as sending a written referral.

It remains the responsibility of your referring GP to monitor your condition while you wait for an appointment. Your GP can update the clinic on any significant changes to your condition which might change your triage category.

You or your GP should notified the JHH Outpatient Service if an appointment is no longer needed.

If you do not want to wait for an appointment, please consider returning to your referring doctor to request a referral to a private specialist. Please note that charges may be incurred for private consultations.

We encourage that patients consider information regarding private health insurance and typical cost, should they choose to consult with a specialist privately. The websites below provide some information that may be helpful:

Compare private health insurance coverage and typical costs:  http:///www.privatehealth.gov.au/dynamic/Search

Get a sense of the cost of private medical procedures: http://www.health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/medical-costs-finder

What happens if my condition gets worse while I am waiting for an appointment?

If you are worried that your condition is getting worse you should advise your referring Health Practitioner (e.g. your GP) immediately . If your referring GP has any concerns, they can send a second referral to the Outpatient Service outlining the deterioration in your condition.

If your condition is urgent or life threating please present to the Emergency Department.

What do I do if my personal details change?

If your personal details change whilst you are waiting for an appointment please ensure that you contact us (02) 4922 3912 so we can update our records accordingly. It is important to keep your contact details up to date as the majority of appointment notifications are mailed or emailed to patients. SMS reminders may also be sent to your mobile telephone.

What is a wait list audit?

The Outpatient waitlist is reviewed (audited) regularly to ensure that patients waiting on the list still require an appointment. Whilst on the waiting list you may receive an audit letter asking you to contact the Outpatient Service if you still require your appointment. Please ensure that you contact us as per the timeframes indicated in the letter, otherwise you will be removed from the waiting list.

Appointment cancellations and changes

What do I do if I need to change or cancel my appointment?

There is a long waiting list for outpatient appointments. If for some reason you are unable to attend this appointment, please contact us on (02) 49223912 as soon as you can. Unfortunately due to the long waits for appointments, we may not be able to reschedule your appointment for some time.

It is important that you call the JHH Outpatient Service to change or cancel any appointments you cannot attend, as this will allow another patient to have that appointment.

If we do not hear from you and you do not attend your appointment you may be discharged from the clinic. You and your referring doctor will be notified via a letter and/or text message.

Please note: The JHH Outpatient Service does not look after the referrals and appointments for a number of specialty services. Please see our Specialty Clinics Guide for the correct contact details.

What happens if I do not attend my appointment and don't tell anyone??

If you do not attend your appointment and we do not hear from you, then you may be discharged from the clinic. You and your referring doctor will be notified via a letter and/or text message.

Your appointment at the JHH Outpatient Service

What do I need to bring to my appointment?

  • Your Medicare or Veterans Affairs Card, Workers Comp or Motor Accident details.
  • Any recent reports, X rays or test results
  • A list of your current Medications
  • Private Health Fund Membership details (if you have one)
  • If you are an overseas visitor without a current Medicare card, a fee will apply. This fee must be paid in full on the day of your appointment.

How will I be notified of my appointment date and time?

Once an appointment is available, you will be contacted via a phone call, email or letter to your home address. We will also send you an appointment reminder via text message the day before your appointment.

If you have been seen in clinic and the clinician would like to see you again, they will complete an appointment request form which they will give to our admin team. You will then be contacted with the date for your follow up appointment via phone, text message, email or letter.

The most efficient and environmentally way to communicate with you is by email. If  you have an email address be sure to let the staff know that you would like to receive communications this way.

What can I expect on the day of my appointment?

Please arrive at the outpatient clinic approximately 15 minutes before your appointment time. You will need to present at the North Block front desk or South Block front desk depending on the clinic you’re attending.

We recommend that you set aside at least 4 hours for your appointment. This may change depending on the clinic—please check with the clinic reception. Sometimes delays can occur. Be assured that appointments are individualised and patients are seen in order of their appointment times.

Clinic delays can be due to longer than expected appointments with other patients, particularly if a complicated treatment and/or diagnosis is being discussed. Occasionally health professionals are urgently required elsewhere which may also cause appointment delays.

Usually there are multiple clinics running at the same time. For this reason, you may notice that other patients are called in ahead of you. This can occur because different clinics take different times to see patients.

If you need a medical certificate for work, please ask your doctor during your appointment.

Where do I go and where should I park for my appointment?

Clinics are located in North and South Block

Please allow extra time for parking prior to your appointment. Timed parking applies, ranging from $2.00 for 20 minutes to one hour, up to $10.00 for more than 6 hours. Less than 20 minutes is free. Concession & disabled rates apply.

Car Park 6 provides direct access to the Outpatient Service building. Once parked you can take the lift to Level 2. Alternatively you can park in the Car Park directly across the road from the Royal Newcastle Centre building.


How can I get there via public transport?

The John Hunter Hospital is serviced by bus numbers 13, 11, 26 and 42, all of which all stop at the main entrance of the hospital. For timetables, please refer to the Newcastle Buses website. If you prefer to travel by taxi, you can book your trip on the Newcastle Taxis Website or call 132 227.

Is there a cost for attending an outpatient appointment?

For Australia residence with a valid Medicare card there is no out-of-pocket expense for JHH Outpatient Service appointments. Generally, hospital diagnostic tests i.e. pathology, x-ray received through the NSW public health system are also covered by Medicare.

Fees may apply if you are an overseas resident.

Is there an interpreter service available?

The Health Care Interpreter Service provides professional interpreters to facilitate communication between health professionals  and clients who are deaf or who have limited English.

On-site interpreters are supplied for all outpatient appointments for patients who need one. Where no on-site interpreter can attend, a telephone or video link (Telehealth) with the interpreter will be arrange.

Can my appointment be via Telehealth?

Hunter New England Health offers patients the option of receiving their outpatient care via telehealth when clinically appropriate.

Telehealth is the secure transmission of a clinical consultation by videoconference over the internet. This is a way for you to have consultations with health professionals without the need and inconvenience of you travelling to hospital. A Hunter New England Health clinician can connect to you over the internet whether you are at home, at work, in a residential aged care facility, at your GP or your local community hospital.

if you would like to discuss the option of your appointment being conducted via Telehealth, please call the JHH Outpatient Service.

More information is available via the HNE Telehealth Internet page.

If you have a upcoming Telehealth appointment in the JHH Outpatient Service, you can find the link to the JHH Outpatient Virtual Waiting Room here.

Other Information

How might my appointment be impacted by COVID19?

It is the priority of the JHH Outpatient Services to keep our patients and staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The JHH visitor policy, including mask requirments, is located on the John Hunter Hospital Website

Clinic appointments

To reduce the number of people entering our hospitals, we are delivering some clinic appointments via virtual options like Telehealth.

We encourage physical distancing in our waiting rooms, and you may be asked to wait outside the department if the unit is particularly busy.

How you can stay safe

The best way to stay safe during your visit to the JHH Outpatient Service is to:

  • Wash and/or sanitise your hands regularly
  • Wear a face mask correctly
  • Practice physical distancing
  • Do not attend your appointment if you are feeling unwell, or at risk of having COVID 19

For up to date information on COVID-19

Call the National Coronavirus Health Information line on 1800 020 080 or visit:

NSW Health: www.health.nsw.gov.au

Australian Government Department of Health: www.schn.health.nsw.gov.au

Who can I speak to for more information?

The JHH Outpatient Service Contact Centre provides advice and support to callers for the following:

  • Progress of referrals
  • Booking appointments
  • Cancellation of appointments
  • Rescheduling of appointments
  • General enquiries relating to the Outpatient Service
  • Post hospital discharge appointments

Please note: The JHH Outpatient Service does not look after the referrals and appointments for a number of specialty services. Please see our Specialty Clinics Guide for the correct contact details.

Do you know your healthcare rights? Access our fact sheet here.