Second opinion

If you are not happy with the treatment you have received from a health professional you can ask your GP, consultant or hospital unit to refer you for a second or further opinion - this is an opinion about your health condition from a different doctor. Although there is no legal right to a second opinion, requests are usually accepted.

The Royal College of General Practitioners guide on good medical practice states that a GP should respect the patient's right to seek a second opinion.

If possible, before asking for a second opinion, it is worth discussing your concerns with the original health professional to clear up any misunderstandings and try to understand why they have reached their opinion.

If you would like a second opinion after seeing your GP, you could book to see a different GP at your current surgery, or re-register at a different GP surgery. If you would like a second opinion after seeing a consultant you will usually need to go back to your GP and ask them to refer you again. Usually a second opinion with a different consultant will be at a different hospital, which could involve travelling further.

Getting a second opinion may delay any treatment you need, as you may have to wait longer as you have already seen a doctor. It is important to take this into account when deciding whether to ask for a second opinion, especially if delaying starting treatment could be harmful.

Sometimes a GP or consultant may ask a colleague to provide a second opinion, for example if a case is particularly complicated.

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