Choice of care and getting a second opinion
Our ‘Care and treatment: your rights and choices’ information explains your rights and choices with regard to your epilepsy care and treatment. ‘Rights’ are in the NHS Constitution and the Handbook to the NHS Constitution, and you are entitled to them by law. Where we say ‘you should’, you may not have a legal right, but these are recommendations made in the NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guideline on epilepsy.
You have a right to choose who provides your care
“You have the right to make choices about the services commissioned by NHS bodies and to information to support these choices.” NHS Constitution
When you are referred to a consultant, you have the right to choose where you go (such as the hospital you go to). This does not include going to Accident & Emergency. You can find information to help you decide where you would like to go, on the NHS website. This includes information on the services offered by different hospitals and sometimes has reviews of the quality of those services.
Most GPs offer the NHS e-Referral Service. This is an electronic referral system which allows you to choose which hospital you want to go to from any NHS hospital in England (including some private hospitals). You can see information about each hospital and book the date and time of your appointment online.
You can ask for a second or ‘further’ opinion
Although you do not have a legal right to receive a second (or ‘further’) opinion, you can ask your GP or hospital doctor or consultant to be referred to another doctor for their opinion on your health condition. Healthcare professionals will rarely refuse to refer you for a second opinion if they think it is in your best interest.
You might want a second opinion about your health condition, your diagnosis, or your treatment options. If you talk to your current doctor about why you feel a second opinion would be helpful, they may be able to answer any questions you have or explain anything you are not sure about. If you still feel that you want a second opinion, you can ask your GP to refer you either to another GP, or for a re-referral to another hospital doctor.
The person you are referred to will know that you have been referred for a second opinion and will usually have access to any results from tests that you have already had. You might also find that your GP or doctor asks a colleague to give a second opinion if they feel it would be helpful.
For more about the NHS Constitution visit nhs.uk/NHSConstitution
For more about the Handbook to the NHS Constitution visit gov.uk/government/publications/supplements-to-the-nhs-constitution-for-england
For more about the NICE guideline visit nice.org.uk/guidance/ng217
Information updated: March 2023
Our ‘Care and treatment: your rights and choices’ information explains your rights and choices with regard to your epilepsy care and treatment.
Sources used to develop Care and treatment: your rights and choices.
A clear care pathway to show you what to do from the first seizure to referrals and reviews.