Getting a second opinion

Share this article →

It is very important that you have confidence in your doctor.  If you are concerned that you have not been given sound advice, or you feel that your doctor has not listened to your concerns, you should do something about this. 

Your options are:

1.            Go back to your doctor to discuss your concerns further.

You should do this if you feel that your doctor did not have all the information about your condition.  Perhaps you discussed more than one medical problem with him/her and not enough time was given to the particular problem that bothered you.  Possibly you forgot to tell the doctor something important – easy to do if you are anxious.  It may be helpful to write a note of everything you want to say next time, or take someone with you to remind you (and give support).  This makes it easier for the doctor to give you an opinion based on all the facts available.

2.            Ask for a second opinion from a doctor in the same GP practice.

If your doctor has been given all the information about your condition and you are not satisfied about the response, asking for a second opinion is the best option.  A good doctor is not afraid of a second opinion, which might confirm the first diagnosis, or pick up on something that has been missed.  Doctors are human – they have to know about a very wide range of illnesses and any individual GP will have more knowledge and skills in some areas of medicine than others. 

Remember that you are registered with a Practice and not an individual doctor.  The doctors in a Practice share responsibility for their patients and will want to do the best for them, so it is reasonable to ask to another doctor there for a second opinion.  You may want to ask to speak to the Senior Partner or the Practice Manager for this opinion. 

A second opinion may confirm that your GP is absolutely right and your concern is unfounded, but it is also possible that another doctor will have a different opinion.  In this case, you will have to decide whether this second opinion is more acceptable to you (a second opinion is not necessarily going to be better than the first).

3.            Seek advice from outside your GP practice.

If you feel that you cannot seek a second opinion from another doctor in the Practice, or you have done this and are still concerned, you can get help from your local NHS Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS).  Information about this service should be available on all NHS premises.  You can also find the contact details and a number to ring for your local PALS on the website, or from the ‘Health Services Near You’ directory page on the NHS Choices website.  Ask to speak to the PALS Officer, who will be able to help you.

4.            Register with another practice.

This should be a last resort, if you really feel you have lost confidence in your doctor and cannot consult anyone else in the practice.  There is no guarantee another doctor would do anything different or better, so you need to make sure that you want to take this step!