How do I get a second opinion?

If you want to get a second opinion from a different doctor, you can ask for one.

Getting a second opinion means seeing a different doctor, possibly in a different hospital. For example, some people or their family may want a second opinion if they are concerned about the diagnosis or recommended treatment.

A second opinion is free on the NHS, or can be paid for privately. If you agree, a family member can ask for one on your behalf. You will need to ask your current doctor or GP for a referral for a second opinion. You don’t have a legal right to a second opinion, but doctors usually won’t refuse.

Asking for a second opinion won’t affect your care. But it can take several weeks, so don’t delay any treatment. You can start treatment while you are going through the process.

Think about what getting a second opinion might mean before asking for one. For example, if the two doctors agree it may make you feel more confident. But if a different treatment is offered you might worry about which treatment to choose.

NHS Direct Wales and Citizens Advice have more information about getting a second opinion.

''If you don't understand something don't be afraid to say you don't. Don't be afraid to ask questions. I know I needed many questions answering as they would just race through my mind and I wouldn't settle.’’

Updated September 2019

Review date September 2021