Objective The aim of the present study was to examine factors associated with: (1) parental preference to receive follow-up care for their child from a general practitioner (GP); and (2) a decision to seek treatment when there is a slight worsening of their child’s condition. Methods Parents presenting with their child at any one of five paediatric out-patient clinics at two public hospitals in Melbourne (Vic., Australia) were surveyed. We performed frequency distributions, bivariate analyses and multivariate logistic regression to evaluate associations with the preference for a GP for follow-up care and treatment in case of a slight worsening. Results In all, 606 parents were recruited to the study, 283 being new presentations and 323 presenting for review. GPs were selected as the preference for follow-up care by 23% (n = 142) of respondents, and 26% (n = 160) reported they would seek treatment from a GP if the condition of their child were to worsen slightly. There was an increased likelihood to prefer a GP for follow-up care for new patients (odds ratio (OR) 3.10; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.99–4.83), those attending general paediatrics clinic (OR 1.73; 95% CI 1.11–2.70), and parents with a lower level of education (OR 1.74; 95% CI 1.09–2.78). For review patients, if during the previous visit a paediatrician suggested follow-up with a GP, parents were more likely to prefer a GP as a follow-up provider (OR 6.70; 95% CI 3.42–13.10) and to seek treatment from a GP in case of a slight worsening (OR 1.86; 95% CI 1.03–3.37). Conclusion Most parents attending paediatric out-patient appointments prefer to return for follow-up care; however, a paediatrician’s advice may have an important role in return of paediatric patients to primary care. What is known about the topic? In Australia, there has been a growing concern regarding long waiting times for specialist consultations in out-patient clinics and difficulties with access for new patients. This has occurred when the ratio of review attendees to new patients has tipped towards the review attendees. What does this paper add? Most parents of children attending paediatric out-patient clinics value follow-up care with paediatric specialists, even if the referring GP requested a return to their surgery. The advice of the consulting paediatrician in support of follow-up care with a GP contributes significantly to the willingness of parents to return to primary care and to seek treatment from their GP for a slight worsening of their child’s condition. What are the implications for practitioners? The findings of the present study have significant implications for the discharge of patients from speciality care: paediatricians can have an important role in the return of paediatric patients to primary care.