The Rheumatology service provides care and treatment for children and young people with bone and joint diseases including juvenile idiopathic arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. It is a free public health service available to all Medicare eligible children who live in Queensland or northern New South Wales.
Care is delivered by a multidisciplinary team, made of specialist doctors, nurses, social workers occupational therapists, physiotherapists, pathology and pharmacy staff.
The specialist team can see and treat children in outpatient clinics, inpatient wards and day admission areas.
Outpatient clinic days and times vary, Monday to Friday.
Telehealth services are available for certain conditions, usually as follow up after a patient has been seen in person.
Outreach clinics in rural areas are not currently offered, however travel subsidies may be available for patients who need to attend all outpatient and inpatient services. Check with your local health care facility for eligibility, booking and claim details.
Who can access this service?
Referrals are accepted up to a child’s 16th birthday.
Existing patients with complex care needs
Referrals are accepted up to a child’s 18th birthday (patients are usually transitioned to adult services by this time).
The service is available to children living in Queensland and northern New South Wales.
Do I need a referral?
You will need a formal referral to access this service.
How do I get a referral?
Referrals are accepted from all registered medical practitioner. Local doctor or general practitioner (GP) referrals are valid for 12 months. A referral from another specialist is valid for 3 months.
Other referral information
The Rheumatology Service offers free health care appointments to any child who lives in Queensland or northern New South Wales. There is no charge or cost involved for outpatient consultation, inpatient stays, or day admissions.
New patients are usually referred to the Rheumatology Service after being assessed by their local doctor or GP, specialist general paediatrician, or from another Queensland Health facility.
*A referral must be received before an appointment can be made.
Written or online referrals are receipted in the hospital Referral Centre and registered.
Registered referrals are collected from the Referral Centre by the Rheumatology Service every business day.
Referrals are categorised as 1, 2 or 3 by senior rheumatology medical staff within five business days.
Patients can expect to be seen within 30 days.
Patients can expect to be seen within 90 days.
Patients can expect to be seen within 12 months.
Once a referral’s category is logged – either an appointment will be allocated, or the patients details will be added to the treat-in-turn wait list.
*The treat in turn wait list system works specifically to monitor the date a child is added to the list and reports exactly how long they are waiting for an appointment. If an appointment becomes available at short notice, or clinic appointments are opened, the wait list identifies which child has waited the longest to offer their family the next best available day.
The treat-in-turn wait list is monitored daily.
This is a medical division appointment notification process:
- An appointment date and time will be allocated to you and data will be entered on our appointment system.
- A letter is printed and posted to you six weeks prior to the actual clinic day.
- Seven days prior to your appointment, a text reminder is sent to your registered mobile number.
- 24 hours prior to your appointment, a second reminder text is sent.
Urgent cases may be referred directly to the Rheumatology Service by the referring doctor. This will be considered on a case by case basis.
If you are an existing patient of the service you will be asked to bring a new referral from your GP or local doctor every 12 months. This is a Medicare requirement.
Our appointments are classified as public and the service is free of charge. If you would like to make a private patient appointment please discuss your options with your referring doctor.
Information for health professionals
Rheumatology provides inpatient and outpatient services to children and young people. The types of conditions diagnosed, treated and managed include:
- juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)
- juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM)
- lupus SLE
- systemic sclerosis and scleroderma
- chronic recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis (CRMO)
- periodic fever syndromes and auto inflammatory conditions
- joint hypermobility
- inflammatory brain disease
- inpatient, day admission and outpatient facilities are available
- intra articular steroid injections under general and local anaesthetic
- steroid, cytotoxic and biologic medication infusions
- patient education support and treatment monitoring
- collaboration for care with other specialities (including General Paediatrics, Opthalmology, Infectious Diseases, Immunology, Nephrology, Neurology, Orthopaedic, Medical Imaging, Cardiac and Anaesthesia)
- adolescent transition service.
Urgent cases may be referred directly to the Rheumatology Service by calling the hospital switchboard on 07 30681111 and asking to speak with the Rheumatology Fellow. Urgent transfer of care will be considered on a case by case basis.
Referrals are accepted from any registered medical practitioner. Referral must be received, registered, and categorised before an appointment can be allocated.
Written or online referrals are receipted in the Children’s Health Queensland Referral Centre.
f: 1300 407 281
Registered referrals are collected by the Rheumatology Service every business day and are categorised as 1, 2 or 3 by senior rheumatology medical staff. Once a referral’s category is logged an appointment is allocated or the referral details are added to the treat-in-turn wait list.
Referral letters are printed in batches based on a specific operational schedule, currently six weeks in advance of the appointment day.
Australian Rheumatology Association
Paediatric Rheumatology Information Europe
Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne Rheumatology Service
Dr Ben Whitehead BSc MBBS (Hons) FRACP