For Patients and Visitors
What is the Neurology Service?
Neurology is the medical specialty dedicated to diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles. Typically we will try to make a diagnosis of the problem that is causing symptoms, and offer explanation and treatment with medication where appropriate. Symptoms that we often evaluate are headaches, losses of consciousness, weakness in the limbs or face, balance problems, slurred speech, altered sensation, double vison and tremor. In a small minority of people the problem we diagnose can only be improved by an operation on the brain or spine so we refer on to a neurosurgeon.
Our team comprises eight consultant neurologists, two Registrar doctors, our Stroke Nurse Practitioner and our Neurophysiology technologist.
Common conditions looked after in our Service are:
- Headache disorders e.g. migraine
- Seizures and epilepsy
- Movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and tremors
- Disorders in which the immune system is acting against: the brain or spine, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or the nerves or muscles such as myasthenia gravis and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP)
- Diseases of nerve branches in the arms, legs or face (neuropathies)
- Spinal cord disorders
- Motor neuron disease
- Balance disorders
- Genetic disorders affecting the nervous system
What can I expect from the service?
Our appointments involve a hospital clinic visit to see a Neurologist or a junior doctor closely supervised by a Neurologist. In our stroke prevention clinic you might see a very experienced Nurse Specialist instead. An interpreter will be available if you do not find it easy to communicate in English. If needed this should be requested in your referral so the interpreter can be booked.
We will discuss the symptoms that have been causing concern and any past health problems that are relevant and will usually examine you in the clinic room – for example testing muscle strength, coordination and reflexes. Sometimes we will then recommend follow up tests such as blood tests, scans of the brain or spine or electrical tests of the brain, nerves or muscles. Most tests will require coming back to the hospital on another day.
After our consultation together, a letter will be sent to your GP. This should arrive within 2 weeks. You are welcome to ask for copies of these letters to be sent to you also.
Some of our appointments are to provide specialised tests only. These include electrical tests of the nerves and muscles (known as EMG or nerve conduction studies, for which you will be seen by a specialised Neurologist or highly trained technologist), and electroencephalography (EEG) where brainwaves are recorded by a highly trained technologist and later studied and interpreted by a Neurologist.
How to refer to the service
A referral is required. Please visit your GP clinic
How much does it cost?
There is no cost to you for the Neurology service.
What do I bring/need for my appointment?
- Medicare card
- Complete list of your medications and names of any drugs you are allergic to
- Name and address of GP and any other health professionals closely involved in your care (so that letters can be copied to the appropriate people)
- Updated referral letter from your GP if you have been notified that this is needed
- One or more family members or friends if you like
- If you are being seen because of a possible seizure then it is best practice for us to also talk to people who have witnessed the attack, so please bring them along or provide their phone number
How long will I wait?
Appointments are decided once your referral has been reviewed by a Neurologist. If your problem is considered to be urgent you will be offered an appointment within a month. We try to see people as soon as possible but our very large referral numbers mean that this is often not as soon as we would like. You can help us by:
- Attending the appointment you receive or telephoning at least a week prior to cancel or rearrange your appointment
On the day, we will try not to keep you waiting long but if we do this is either because:
- The doctors have had to urgently attend other people with neurological emergencies or
- People seen before you in the clinic had complicated problems requiring more time than anticipated
Therefore your patience is really appreciated.
Phone: 8405 8335
For Health Professionals
The Northern Health Neurology service provides comprehensive neurological diagnosis and care for individuals with disorders of the brain, spinal cord, nerve roots, peripheral nerves and muscles. We are a busy service provided by 10 neurologists, 3 registrars and our Stroke Nurse Practitioner and our Neurophysiology technologist. In 2019 we received 3389 new referrals.
The Neurology service includes Neurologists, Registrars, Residents, Stroke Nurse Practitioner and Neuroscientist.
Director/Head of Unit: Associate Professor Doug Crompton
Dr Matt Ligtermoet
Dr Paul Kopanidis
Dr Mei Ngun
Dr Hannah Rosenfeld
Dr Geraldine Ng
Dr Moksh Sethi
Dr Joseph Wong
Dr. Helen Gardner
Dr. Felix Ng
Other Neurology Medical Staff:
Stroke Nurse Practitioner
Neurology Clinic Lead
Neurology and Neurodiagnostic clinics for diagnosis and management of adults with neurological symptoms.
Neurology Clinical appointments include:
- General neurology clinic
- Epilepsy clinic
- First seizure clinic
- Neuroimmunology clinic
- Movement disorder clinic
- Stroke clinic
- Motor Neurone Disorder clinic
- Headache clinic
- Botox clinic
- TIA’s are managed urgently via Emergency Department referral
Neurology Diagnostic appointments include:
- Nerve conduction studies (NCS)
- Electromyography studies (EMG)
- Electroencephlography (EEG) – currently referrals accepted only from within Northern Health
Neurology Referral Criteria
For detailed referral criteria and required supporting information of conditions in adults outlined below, please refer to the Victorian Statewide Referral Criteria for Specialist Clinics: https://src.health.vic.gov.au/specialities
- Epilepsy and seizures
- Motor weakness or paraesthesia
- Movement disorders and dystonia
- Stroke or transient ischaemic attack (after urgent ED or inpatient assessment)
- Vertigo (neurology)
Other conditions seen include:
- Peripheral Nervous System mononeuropathies, polyneuropathies, myopathies and neuromuscular junction disorders such as myasthenia gravis.
- Central Nervous System- multiple sclerosis and other CNS demyelinating disorders, motor neurone disease
- Neurogenetic disorders
- Progressive ataxias
The patients we care for often have:
- Headache disorders such as migraine, (we also offer our migraine botox service for people with frequent severe migraine refractory to standard treatment)
- Stroke and TIA follow-up and secondary prevention (NB: acute stroke or TIA symptoms require urgent ED attendance)
- Seizures and epilepsy, including a First Seizure clinic
- Movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, tremors or dystonia
- Neuro-immunological disorders such multiple sclerosis (MS), neuromyelitis optica (NMO), myasthenia gravis and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP)
- Peripheral nerve disorders
- Spinal cord disorders
- Motor neuron diseases
- Balance disorders
- Genetic disorders affecting the nervous system
Conditions not seen by Northern Health Neurology include:
Paediatric neurological conditions <16 years (except EEG clinic, patients 10y.o and above accepted) please consider referral to alternate service such as Royal Children Hospital Neurology : About the RCH Neurology Department
- Isolated spinal (neck or back) pain. Vasovagal syncope.
- Sleep disordered breathing.
- Falls in the elderly – consider referral to Falls and Balance Service | Northern Health
- Slowly evolving cognitive disorders in patients over 65 years old – consider referral to Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service | Northern Health
- Chronic pain in the absence of a neurological disorder – consider referral to Pain Assessment and Management Service (Outpatient) | Northern Health
- Patients simultaneously referred to another public Neurology service with the same problem, or who have existing follow-up with a private neurologist
- Unable to offer service for patients referred by GP for EEG alone due to capacity – EEG cannot be used to confirm or refute a seizure disorder and if one is suspected a referral to our first seizure clinic or epilepsy clinic is recommended
- Single fibre EMG not performed at northern health please refer to alternate service such as Austin Neurodiagnostics Laboratory Austin Health: Neurology
- Nerve conduction studies on paediatric patients are not performed at Northern Health, please consider referral to alternate service such as Royal Children Hospital
- Neurology : About the RCH Neurology Department
- Sleep deprived EEGs are not performed at Northern Health , please refer to alternate service such as Austin Neurodiagnostics Laboratory Austin Health: Neurology
For further guidance on how to manage this condition in general practice, or what specific investigations and information are required for specialist referral, please visit your local HealthPathways website or equivalent online care pathways website. Please contact your local PHN if you require login access to HealthPathways. HealthPathways Melbourne – Neurology
How to Refer
All referrals to Northern Health should be sent via: E-referral or Fax: 8405 8616
- To ensure safe, timely access to Northern Health, all referrals must contain the minimum referral information as detailed below:
Minimum Referral Information
- Urgent referrals can be made directly to the on-call Neurology Registrar via Northern Health switchboard Tel: 8405 8000
|Patient Demographic Information:||Clinical Information|
| – Full Name (and alias)
– Mobile Number
– Date of Birth
– Medicare Number
– Indigenous Status
– Interpreter Requirements
| – Reason for Referral
– Requested Specialty / Service
– Working Diagnosis
– Current Manage of the condition
– Medical History (current and relevant past)
– Current Medications
– Relevant Investigations and pathology
* Please note: that if a referral fails to meet the minimum referral information it will be declined with notification by letter to referring GP and patient
Please also include:
- Clear details of the symptoms including timescale
- Examination findings, (mandatory if the referring problem includes weakness or balance symptoms)
- Relevant tests such as brain imaging and blood tests
- Details of treatments which have been attempted thus far
- Any known drug allergies or adverse reactions