New criteria to reduce wait times for eligible patients requiring plastic surgery or with joint or lower back pain

Promotional image for joint pain statewide referral criteria showing a sore knee and the words "Clear, consistent criteria".
  12 March 2024  NWMPHN   

New statewide referral criteria for plastic surgery and joint pain come into effect from 1 March 2024 in all Victorian public hospitals.

When a referring GP successfully uses the new criteria for plastic surgery or joint pain to refer a patient to a public hospital, patients can be placed directly onto the specialist clinics wait list. The referral information encourages multi-disciplinary assessments to support non-surgical care and, when required appropriate direction to surgical treatment through the statewide referral criteria. This is why more information is needed in referrals – to support better access for patients.

The Victorian Department of Health has developed and published statewide referral criteria for 14 conditions across the joint pain and plastic surgery speciality suites.

Joint pain (focussing on hip and knee conditions, shoulder conditions, progressive low back pain)

Plastic surgery (focussing on hand and skin lesions)

These two new suites join the 13 suites of statewide referral criteria already in existence across Victoria.

GPs and other primary care providers can visit HealthPathways or care pathways or to find these and the other statewide referral criteria.

Statewide referral criteria provide referring clinicians clear and consistent guidance about which patients can be seen in public specialist clinics across Victoria and what investigations are necessary to support accurate prioritisation of referrals.

GPs and other primary care providers are encouraged to check their local HealthPathways or care pathways website when making referrals – this will be the quickest way to understand their local public hospital’s requirements. It is also a helpful way to trouble shoot management of these conditions when a referral to specialist clinics is not indicated.

GPs can visit HealthPathways or care pathways website or visit to view the criteria.

Statewide referral criteria apply to public hospitals and health services only. They do not apply to private hospitals. Breast Surgery is the next suite of criteria scheduled for release on 1 June 2024, additional specialities set to be released throughout 2024.