Getting a Second Opinion
If you feel you need a second opinion regarding your diagnosis and/or treatment, what do you do?
A second opinion may be requested by:
- You, the patient you may have doubts about the first diagnosis or suggested course of treatment and may like an alternative diagnosis/course of treatment to be investigated. You may simply require confirmation from another doctor
- Your carer or a relative (this must be with your consent).
- GP if your GP is unsure about a diagnosis, they may refer you to a consultant or another GP. They could be found negligent if they fail to do this and you suffer as a result.
- Consultant it is fairly common for a consultant to ask for a further opinion from a colleague if a case is particularly complicated.
You may request a second opinion after you have seen your GP, consultant or other health professional.
Second opinion from a GP: If you are not happy with the advice you have been given by your GP, and would like a second opinion, you have three options:
- If you are registered with a multi-GP practice, you can ask to see another GP in the practice
- Your GP can write a letter referring you to a GP in another local practice
- Your GP can write a letter referring you to a private GP, which you may have to pay for
You may at any time ask to register with another GP practice. However, the practice is under no obligation to accept you on their register.
Second opinion from a consultant or specialistA specialist is a doctor who has chosen and trained in a speciality area, e.g. paediatrician, surgeon, gynaecologist. Your GP will refer you to the specialist in your geographical area, who has the most expertise and is most appropriate for you. A specialist will only see you with a letter of referral from your GP. This letter will give the specialist essential background information on medication, previous treatments and anything your GP would like considered.
If you would like a second opinion on any recommended treatment, your specialist or GP will usually be prepared to arrange this. Or you may ask your consultant to do a consultant-to-consultant referral.
If you want to see a private specialist, you should get a referral from your GP. But if you see a private specialist without a GP referral, your GP is not obliged to accept the specialists advice.
Second opinion from a dentistYour dentist should explain to you the advantages and disadvantages of any treatment they recommend, and tell you about any alternatives that are available. With this information you will be able to make a decision about whether or not to have the treatment.
You can ask your dentist to refer you for a second opinion if you are unsure about a treatment plan. Your dentist will refer you to either a hospital or to a Dental Reference Officer for the second opinion. Although you are always free to ask another dentist for a second opinion, the NHS does not cover this option, so you may have to pay a private charge if you choose to do this.