Second Opinions - How
How do I get a second opinion on the NHS?
There are two types of second opinion in the NHS:
- a local second opinion, and
- an out-of-area specialist second opinion.
Local second opinion
This is an opinion from another doctor in your local NHS. For example, if your psychiatrist has diagnosed you then the second opinion would be from another psychiatrist in their team or from a different local team.
If your GP has diagnosed you but you disagree, you could ask them to pass your details to a psychiatrist. This is not the same as a second opinion. But if they won’t offer this, you could ask for a second opinion from another GP.
There may not be a formal procedure for asking for a local opinion. It is best to talk it through with your doctor. Make it clear what outcomes you are looking for. You could mention:
- why you feel the diagnosis or treatment option is uncertain,
- how this uncertainty makes you feel,
- how having a second opinion would make you feel more certain, and comfortable with treatment, and
- any problems you have had with treatment so far.
It is generally best not to criticise your doctor’s opinion if you can avoid this. You can acknowledge their opinion but say that you are aware that there are often differences of opinion and you would like to explore all your options before settling on long-term treatment.
There may be a specialist mental health service in your area. In this situation, you may be able to get a specialist opinion more easily without having to go out-of-area.
Out-of-area specialist second opinion
The procedure for asking for an independent second opinion outside your local NHS depends on local policies. You may have to ask for details of the ‘individual funding request’ policy.
If your local NHS agrees that you should have a second opinion outside their area, they will have to pay for this.
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