Access prioritisation and waitlisting

Mercy Health Hospitals manage non-admitted specialist clinic referrals according to the 'Specialist clinics in Victorian public hospitals: access policy'. Thorough and complete referrals optimise patient access to these services.

Referral process

Step 1: Referral received

Essential referral content will be checked.

Referrals that are incomplete, or do not have the required information to assess the referral, will not be accepted. The referring clinician will be notified in writing  within three working days of the referral being received.

Acknowledgement of referral receipt occurs within eight working days. This can include information such as:

  • if the service is not available through Mercy Health
  • the referral has not been accepted as the patient’ condition does not meet the statewide referral criteria
  • the referral has been accepted and an appointment has been arranged with the appropriate service
  • the referral has been accepted and an appointment provided. The anticipated time for the appointment may be included.

Step 2: Prioritisation

Referrals to Mercy Health non admitted specialist services (outpatient clinics) are assessed against the Statewide Referral Criteria, or in their absence against local clinical criteria.

Referrals to services where Statewide Referral Criteria exist which do not meet these criteria will be declined.

Statewide Referral Criteria for Specialist Clinics - Victoria

  • Website: Statewide Referral Criteria
  • About:

    The Department of Health and Human Services has developed statewide referral criteria to assist GPs and clinicians referring patients to specialist clinics. These referral criteria have been developed to improve access to specialist clinics in public hospitals by improving the quality and appropriateness of referrals.

Referrals to outpatient clinics at Mercy Health are triaged using the clinical information and investigations provided in your referral. The referral is triaged by the specialist areas according to clinical urgency. This determines how long the patient will have to wait for an appointment.

Referrals that do not meet the required clinical information and investigations for the service or clinics will not be accepted.

HealthPathways Melbourne

  • Email address: info@healthpathwaysmelbourne.org.au
  • Website: HealthPathways Melbourne
  • About:

    HealthPathways Melbourne is a free, web-based portal with relevant and evidence-based information on the assessment and management of common clinical conditions including referral guidance.

    Please refer to HealthPathways Melbourne for guidance in assessing, managing and referring for patient conditions (login required).​

    Referrals to outpatient clinics at Mercy Health will be triaged against clinical information and investigations based on these guidelines.

    Referrals that do not meet the required clinical information and investigations will not be accepted.

    Please email HealthPathways if you need to confirm your username and password.

Step 3: Scheduling and wait-listing

Patients with urgent or ‘high priority’ conditions are scheduled to be seen within 30 days.

Patients with non-urgent or ‘routine’ conditions are given the next available appointment according to clinical need. Where an appointment is not yet available, the patient will be placed on the waiting list and seen in turn.

Both the referrer and patient are notified.

Incomplete referrals

Referrals that are incomplete, or do not have the required information to assess the referral, will not be accepted.

Referrals that do not meet the required clinical information and investigations for the service or clinics will not be accepted.

HealthPathways Melbourne

  • Email address: info@healthpathwaysmelbourne.org.au
  • Website: HealthPathways Melbourne
  • About:

    HealthPathways Melbourne is a free, web-based portal with relevant and evidence-based information on the assessment and management of common clinical conditions including referral guidance.

    Please refer to HealthPathways Melbourne for guidance in assessing, managing and referring for patient conditions (login required).​

    Referrals to outpatient clinics at Mercy Health will be triaged against clinical information and investigations based on these guidelines.

    Referrals that do not meet the required clinical information and investigations will not be accepted.

    Please email HealthPathways if you need to confirm your username and password.

Mercy Health will notify the referring clinician in writing of this decision within three working days of the referral being received.

Where a referral is incomplete but urgent or ‘high-priority’, Mercy Health will attempt to contact the referrer by telephone for the remaining information.

If we need more information, we will contact the referring clinician requesting an updated referral to be received within 30 days. If an updated referral is not sent, the referral is declined. Both the referrer and patient are notified.

Clinical Prioritisation

Clinical prioritisation is the process of assigning a referral to an access category (high priority or routine) based on:

  • the patient’s clinical need and related psychosocial factors
  • if the patient is part of a vulnerable population
  • if the patient has been previously discharged from the same service for the same presenting problem.

Referrals to outpatient clinics at Mercy Health are triaged using the clinical information and investigations provided in your referral. The referral is prioritised by the specialist areas according to clinical urgency. This determines how long the patient will have to wait for an appointment.

Referrals are categorised as ‘high priority’ if the patient has a condition that has the potential to deteriorate quickly with significant consequences for health and quality of life if not managed promptly.

Referrals are categorised as ‘routine’ if the patient’s condition is unlikely to deteriorate quickly or have significant consequences to the person’s health and quality of life if the service is delayed beyond 30 calendar days.

Waiting list

Patients are added to the specialty waiting list if an appointment is not yet available. Both the patient and referrer are notified that they have been placed on a list of waiting patients.

Administrative audits of waiting lists are regularly conducted. The patient is contacted to confirm:

  • that the service is still required (e.g. the patient has not already received the service elsewhere)
  • the patient’s ability to attend when an appointment becomes available
  • current contact details and preferred method of communication.

Clinical audits of waiting lists are regularly conducted. This involves a clinician contacting the patient, or the patient’s referring clinician, or both, to determine:

  • that the service is still required (e.g. the patient is not declining treatment)
  • if there is any change in the patient’s clinical condition, or if there should be a change to the patient’s clinical prioritisation
  • if there is any reason why the patient should be removed from the list of waiting patients

Health services may remove a patient from a list of patients waiting for an appointment if the patient:

  • no longer requires or consents to the service. This can be because they have, or plan to, receive the service elsewhere
  • their presenting problem has resolved
  • they are declining treatment
  • has not accessed the tests or investigations that must be completed prior to the appointment on two consecutive occasions
  • has not responded to two invitations to make an appointment or
  • has not attended an appointment on two consecutive occasions
  • is ‘not ready for care’.

The referring clinician is contacted before a decision based on the patient not responding or attending is finalised.

Resources

Statewide Referral Criteria for Specialist Clinics - Victoria

  • Website: Statewide Referral Criteria
  • About:

    The Department of Health and Human Services has developed statewide referral criteria to assist GPs and clinicians referring patients to specialist clinics. These referral criteria have been developed to improve access to specialist clinics in public hospitals by improving the quality and appropriateness of referrals.

HealthPathways Melbourne

  • Email address: info@healthpathwaysmelbourne.org.au
  • Website: HealthPathways Melbourne
  • About:

    HealthPathways Melbourne is a free, web-based portal with relevant and evidence-based information on the assessment and management of common clinical conditions including referral guidance.

    Please refer to HealthPathways Melbourne for guidance in assessing, managing and referring for patient conditions (login required).​

    Referrals to outpatient clinics at Mercy Health will be triaged against clinical information and investigations based on these guidelines.

    Referrals that do not meet the required clinical information and investigations will not be accepted.

    Please email HealthPathways if you need to confirm your username and password.

The Specialist clinics in Victorian public hospitals: Access policy

  • Website: Access policy
  • About:

    The Specialist clinics in Victorian public hospitals: Access policy, outlines the government’s expectations of service delivery, including indicative timeframes for the implementation of key processes relating to specialist clinics.

Last reviewed October 30, 2019.

Understanding the outpatient referral process

Understanding what happens next once you have been referred to Werribee Mercy Hospital or Mercy Hospital for Women Outpatient Clinics.

Understanding the outpatient referral process

Referral instructions and templates

To assist with appropriate referral triage and management, please use the Mercy Health referral templates including all required information. Referrals using your own template are also accepted providing that it includes all information required to triage.

Referral instructions and templates

Our clinics and services

We offer clinics and services across Victoria and southern New South Wales. Our services are available to all public and privately insured patients.

Our clinics and services