Central Referral Service – Frequently asked questions

What is the role of the Central Referral Service (CRS)?

The CRS provides a coordinated and sustainable model for outpatient referral management across the WA health system. The CRS ensures referrals for an initial specialist outpatient appointment contain all mandatory information and then allocates them to the appropriate hospital site based on a patient’s clinical requirements, location and level of health service required. The CRS is not responsible for clinical triage, this remains the responsibility of the receiving hospital site.

How long will a patient have to wait to see a specialist?

Wait time is dependent on the clinical needs of the patient and their individual circumstances. Referrals will be prioritised by a clinician at the allocated hospital site. Hospitals aim for patients to be seen within clinically appropriate timeframes. However, wait-times may vary across sites.  

What is Specialist Referral Access Criteria (RAC)?

RAC are standardised specialist referral access criteria that provide clear guidance around what conditions will be seen in a public outpatient specialty, when a patient will be accepted by public outpatient services, and what investigations and supporting information is required to support effective and appropriate triage. See referrals and templates for further information on RAC.

Will referral guidelines be available for GPs?

Steps on how to refer a patient through the CRS are available here. Referral guidelines to support a referral decision can be found at Health Pathways here.  

What if the referral form templates are not compatible with my practice software?

If you do not have practice software that is compatible with one of the CRS referral form templates provided, you can fill out the referral form electronically by downloading the form at http://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/Articles/N_R/Referral-form-templates

Once the referral form is completed electronically it must be sent to the CRS, preferably via secure messaging.

Alternatively, you can print the referral form and complete it by hand. You can download a PDF copy of the referral form at: http://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/Articles/N_R/Referral-form-templates. Please note, the CRS prefers referrals that are completed electronically via the electronic referral form as this ensures information contained within the referral is clear and legible and will reduce the likelihood of a referral from being sent back to the GP for clarification.

What do I do if I am experiencing problems with secure messaging?

If you are experiencing problems with secure messaging please check that you have the latest version of your practice software installed.

If you are still experiencing problems, the CRS suggests that you contact your secure messaging provider directly. Further resources for secure messaging can be found on the CRS website here.

Alternatively, you can send referrals to the CRS via fax. The CRS requests that you only send your referral via post as a last resort, if you are unable to send in your referral via secure messaging or fax, to avoid delayed referral processing times and potential risk for your referral to be lost.

Frequently Asked Questions on Referrals and Templates.

For any additional enquiries, please email the Central Referral Service at


Last reviewed: 16-09-2021
Produced by

System Clinical Support and Innovation Unit