Seeking and providing external second opinions in paediatrics

A helpful resource for healthcare professionals, service planners and families to draw upon when requesting, providing and receiving an external second opinion.

In partnership

This guidance was developed with the help of Together for Short Lives, Paediatric Critical Care Society, clinicians from a wide range of specialties, and families. 

Logos: RCPCH, Together for Short Lives, Paediatric Critical Care Society
Children and parent

Information for families

As well as the full guidance below we have developed a short guide for families that covers the key points of the external second opinion process.

Illustration of a family speaking with one health professional
Find out what is needed to ensure the right foundations are in place to encourage a collaborative and transparent external second opinion process.
Illustration of a family speaking with two health professionals
Guidance for health professionals and families around seeking and providing external second opinions. A shorter guide for families is also available below.
Illustration of a man looking at papers while at a desk
Our recommendations aim to support this guidance being adopted nationally and locally. They include supporting families, the paediatric workforce, and education and training.

Context, aims and scope

We explain how second opinions are currently carried out, why it's important to standardise the process, the legal and medical professional frameworks and considerations on unlicensed or experimental interventions.

Examples of good practice

We provide good practice examples of the external second opinion process in five scenarios.

Expert witness work

We explain the importance of expert witness work, how it differs from providing external second opinions and the challenges facing both areas of work.