Talking to your doctor about your care

Speaking to your doctor can be daunting. But it’s important they support you when you’re making decisions about your care. 

Our Decision making and consent guidance sets out how doctors should have conversations with patients.

When speaking to you, your doctor should: 

  • talk to you in a way that you can easily understand
  • clearly explain all the treatments available and what each would involve
  • go through the benefits and risks of each treatment - this should include the option to do nothing
  • help you to understand your options and remember them
  • find out what’s important to you and tell you how different treatments might affect your life
  • ask what risks you feel comfortable with.

Your doctor must listen to you, give you the opportunity to ask questions and respond honestly when you do. You might find it helpful to write some questions down before you speak to them, if you’re able to. 

They should never rush you into making a decision and should encourage you to think about the options available to you. They should also give you time to talk about your options with family, friends or someone you trust. 

If you have difficulty understanding spoken English, your doctor should use an interpreter or translation service when speaking with you.

Helping you speak to your doctor

Choosing Wisely UK is an organisation that aims to improve conversations between doctors and patients. It’s produced a useful method to help you when talking to your doctors about treatments. Use the letters B.R.A.N to ask: 

What are the benefits? 

What are the risks?

What are the alternatives?

What if I do nothing? 

You can find more information about this method on Choosing Wisely UK’s website.