Letter: Second opinions

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Gillian Hall (letter, 19 November) raises the issue of a patient's right to a second opinion.

GPs are their patient's advocates and, as such, they have a duty to secure the best possible care for them. This involves referral where a specialist opinion is appropriate. There is no question of it being unethical to seek two opinions on the same condition in the same patient.

However, family doctors do have a responsibility not to subject their patients to unnecessary repeated examinations and investigation. There is a duty to use NHS resources appropriately, so that the maximum benefit is gained for the whole of society.

Each case has to be judged on its merits. In Dr Ledward's case the profession failed its patients inexcusably.

SIMON FRADD

Doctor Patient Partnership

London WC1

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