The Second Psychiatric Opinion Service is currently being developed:
full service due to commence late in 2016

The Mental Health Act 2014 promotes recovery-oriented practice in the public mental health service system. Central to this is a supported decision-making model which enables and supports patients to make decisions about their assessment, treatment and recovery.  Second psychiatric opinions are intended to promote self-determination for patients by providing them with information about their illness, treatment and possible alternative treatments.

Second psychiatric opinions may be provided by any Psychiatrist in a public mental health service or in the private sector. Designated mental health services offer second opinions from within the Service where appropriate and with the patient’s agreement.

The Second Psychiatric Opinion Service has been established in order to provide independent second psychiatric opinions to entitled persons under the Act, in circumstances when a second opinion via other means is not available or feasible.

Who is this Service for?

Patients who are eligible to obtain a second psychiatric opinion through this Service are:

  • a person who is subject to a Temporary Treatment Order or a Treatment Order;
  • a security patient; or
  • a forensic patient.

What does this Service provide?

The Second Psychiatric Opinion Service provides a second psychiatric opinion for eligible patients in relation to two specific things:

  • the treatment provided to a patient (including recommending any changes the psychiatrist considers are appropriate); and/or
  • whether the criteria for the relevant Order apply to the patient. This function does not apply in relation to forensic patients who are detained by an order of a court.

The second psychiatric opinion is provided in the form of a written report. The information in the report is intended to enable patients to better understand their illness, treatment and alternative treatments, and contribute to decision-making about their treatment.

In accordance with the Mental Health Act 2014, the Psychiatrist giving a second psychiatric opinion may:

  • examine the patient;
  • access any heath information that is held by the mental health service treating the patient; and
  • consult the treating psychiatrist and any other staff of the mental health service about the patient’s treatment. The Psychiatrist may also consult the views of the nominated person, a guardian, a carer (if the Psychiatrist proposes changes to the treatment that will directly affect the carer and the care relationship), a parent of a patient under 16 years and the Secretary to the Department of Health and Human Services, if the patient is the subject of a custody to Secretary order or a guardianship to Secretary order.

The Psychiatrist providing the second opinion undertakes to explain the opinion and information provided in the report to the patient in the language, mode of communication and terms which the patient is most likely to understand.

Who can request a second opinion?

The Mental Health Act 2014 provides a right for a patient to seek a second psychiatric opinion at any time. A patient can also ask someone to seek a second opinion on their behalf. Guardians, parents of patients under 16 years of age and the Secretary to the Department of Health and Human Services (if the patient is the subject of custody to Secretary Order or guardianship to Secretary Order) may also seek a second psychiatric opinion for a patient.