Why When It Comes To Our Health, We Should All Be Seeking A Second Opinion

18/10/2016 12:43

I think 'bargaining' is number three out of the five stages of grief, which is the point where we wish we had a time machine to transport us back in time and allow us to notice sooner that our loved one had begun to lose weight, that their appetite had dissipated, anything to find that cancer sooner and get a hold of it before it wreaked its havoc.

Supporting and advising the families of our patients, means that I often get the honour of being a part of the process which sees husbands, wives, parents and children leaving no stone unturned as they ensure they have explored all possible medical options to help their family member. We get to seek out that critical second opinion on diagnoses, which only 30% of people in the UK request. Absurd when you consider that Brits are more likely to second guess their car finance.

On the best days, this means we provide hope and tangible alternatives to what can sometimes be a life-changing diagnosis. Other days the news isn't comforting, but working for an organisation whose sole motivation is to objectively ensure our patients have been given the right medical advice, scouring the globe for cutting edge treatment options and research on prognosis, means that the question of 'If only' is neither a question or regret our patients have to bare.

I found Alivia, or should I say Alivia found me, having initially trained as a nurse at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London. I worked in HIV and infectious diseases, then worked as a practice nurse in plastic and reconstructive surgery. I've seen serious illness up close and personal and the birth of my children left me feeling even more committed to finding a role which allowed me to make as significant a contribution as possible to others.

If our patients want me to attend appointments with them I do so as well. Some patients are completely alone and I have even been asked to act as the next of kin, so my role goes way beyond that of medical advisor. It is emotionally taxing but incredibly rewarding.

The challenge is to drive a mindset shift in society as a whole, and reverse the trend for accepting the doctor's prognosis as the final verdict, rather than the opinion which it actually is. We must support the NHS or existing private medical options and health services on offer in this country to make the necessary changes. However as an organization it is imperative that we always remain objective and unaffiliated to insurance companies and doctors, so that we continue to be an unbiased source of intelligence and support for our patients when they need it most. With 143,181 people still dying of cancer and other serious diseases according to statistics from 2011, as a nation we need to end the complacency surrounding our health. It's time for a new empowered narrative which sees us questioning and challenging the advice on our health in the way that we do with our commercial assets. I believe an attitude shift like this will transform the landscape of health in this country, and I'm proud to be part of the machine driving this change.

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