HOW do I go about getting a referral to an NHS specialist?

You will need to see your GP if you wish to be referred to a specialist in a particular field, such as a surgeon or a gynaecologist.

All your medical records are held by your GP, who understands your health history and treatments better than anyone. Therefore, your GP can decide whether a referral is necessary and, if so, can recommend what hospitals, or clinics, would be appropriate to visit.

Generally, you cannot self-refer to a specialist within the NHS, except when accessing sexual health clinics or accident or emergency treatment.

A specialist will only see you if you have a letter of referral from your GP.

If you wish to see a private specialist, you are still advised to get a letter of referral from your GP. However, if you see a private specialist without a GP referral, your GP is not obliged to accept the specialist's recommendations.

THIS is a potentially serious and progressive condition where the body's medium and large arteries become clogged up by fatty substances, such as cholesterol. These substances are called plaques or atheromas.


Atherosclerosis can cause peripheral arterial disease, angina, aneurysm, heart attacks and strokes.


If it is felt that you are at significant risk of developing a cardiovascular disease, you will be advised to make lifestyle changes, such as changing your diet and taking more exercise.

My husband smokes 20 a day but usually only smokes in the kitchen with the window open. I am worried about the effects of passive smoking on myself and our two-year old-daughter.

Breathing in someone else's cigarette smoke (passive smoking) can increase your risk of cancer and other health problems. It is also particularly harmful for children.

When someone smokes a cigarette, the smoke from the burning tip stays in the air. So does the smoke they breathe out. Smoke can stay in the air for several hours even if there is ventilation or the window is open.

Passive smoking can damage your body because secondhand smoke contains more than 4000 toxic chemicals, many of which are known to cause cancer.

Passive smoking also increases your risk of coronary heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, respiratory illnesses and reduced lung function.

Find out more about passive smoking at