What is a second opinion?
A second opinion is simply an assessment that is done by an additional, independent psychiatrist who is able to cast a fresh pair of eyes over your case. You may have already been given a diagnosis, but you aren’t sure if it’s correct or fits what you’re experiencing. Or you may be in agreement with your current diagnosis, but feel that your treatment plan is not working well enough or is not suited to you. If you feel that your current diagnosis, or lack thereof, does not sit quite right, we can approach this sensitively.
Why get a second opinion?
You might have multiple reasons for considering a second opinion, such as:
- You’re not confident about your current diagnosis or want to expand further on your diagnosis.
- You’re concerned that your diagnosis doesn’t fit your symptoms.
- You’ve been told that there is nothing wrong with you, but you still don’t feel right.
- You feel misunderstood by previous doctors.
- You’ve tried several treatments in the past and feel none of them has worked.
- You’re suffering from unwanted side effects.
- You have unanswered questions about your current treatment plan.
- You want to try other medications or non-pharmacological treatments.
- You’d like to discuss and explore other treatment options that you’ve heard of, but which haven’t been offered to you yet.
- You haven’t explored other evidence-based approaches, which could include alternative medications or non-pharmacological options.
- You’re trying to come off medication but would like additional advice from another expert as you may not be comfortable with what your current clinician has suggested.
When should I get a second opinion?
You can arrange for a second opinion consultation with a psychiatrist at any stage of your treatment, regardless of whether you’ve just been diagnosed or have been receiving treatment for many years. We understand that going through an episode or experiencing symptoms can be distressing, and usually, additional reassurance from another expert can help to ease your worries.
We can usually offer second opinion consultations with very short notice, depending on the psychiatrist you want to see.
Which psychiatrist should I see for a second opinion?
Our psychiatrists are all highly experienced in providing second opinions, so you can choose the psychiatrist who you feel is best suited to your personal preferences. If you’re unsure about who would be the most suitable psychiatrist for your condition, our team of experienced and friendly medical secretaries will help you to find the right psychiatrist to fit your needs. Our psychiatrists cover a whole range of mental health conditions with expertise in each field, so rest assured we can find the right psychiatrist for you.
What happens during a second opinion consultation?
Your psychiatrist will discuss your medical history in detail, as well as your current symptoms and your existing treatment plan. They will listen to any concerns you may have and explore what currently is and isn’t working for you.
It is generally very helpful for the doctor who is providing a second opinion to have a copy of your medical records of any relevant reports or letters, in order to review your history ahead of your appointment.
Will you also review my medication?
A medication review is also included in a second opinion, which is particularly helpful when patients haven’t previously responded well to several different medications. A medication review is also an opportunity to ask any questions or voice any concerns you have about your medications so that you feel comfortable with your treatment plan. See our page on medication reviews for more information.
What happens after a second opinion consultation?
After your consultation, the psychiatrist will produce a report detailing their objective opinion about your case and their recommendations for your treatment plan. This report will be sent to you only, but it can also be shared with your GP or another healthcare professional with your consent.
Whilst our psychiatrists will take great care to review your case and your medical history and do their best to understand your lived experience. In some instances, their opinion may be similar to your existing clinician’s diagnosis or treatment plan.
What isn’t included in a second opinion consultation?
A second opinion is not the same as an initial assessment before you are starting treatment with us, as it does not include any medication prescriptions or the execution of an additional treatment plan by our psychiatrists. However, second opinion assessments can be a very useful tool to re-evaluate or extend your current existing treatment. The outcome of your second opinion is explicitly meant as additional guidance for your GP or treating psychiatrist to put additional steps into place.
Do I need a referral to get a second opinion?
You don’t need a referral or a letter to seek a second opinion, but it is helpful if you have one from your GP, current psychiatrist or another healthcare professional. You can ask your GP or treating doctor for a referral for a second opinion, or you can call us directly to book a second opinion appointment.
If you feel uncomfortable about asking for a referral from your current doctor, please don’t be worried or concerned as this is a common practice within both the NHS and private healthcare to seek a second opinion. This is particularly the case for mental health conditions, due to the complex nature of symptoms and variation between different people.
Can I request a second opinion without the permission of my current psychiatrist?
Yes, requesting a second opinion is entirely your choice. It is helpful if you can let your current psychiatrist or your GP know that you would like to request a second opinion, as they will be able to share your previous records with us. However, there may be certain circumstances where this is not possible or where you feel it would not be appropriate to do so. If you are in a situation where you feel you need a second opinion, it is perfectly fine for you to request this and also it is your choice whether we should share the results with your psychiatrist.
Is a second opinion confidential?
We will always treat the information about your second opinion sensitively, and will not contact your GP, your current psychiatrist, or any other third parties without your permission and consent. However, please be aware that a second opinion assessment does not include the prescription of any medication or execution of a new treatment plan, which should be carried out by your treating psychiatrist or GP.
Will my insurance cover a second opinion assessment?
In most cases, your insurer should be able to pay for a second opinion assessment. However, this will need to be discussed with your insurance company before booking an appointment, as policies vary. Our experienced and friendly team of medical secretaries will be happy to help you liaise with your insurance company to see if this can be covered for you.