Page last updated:
31st May 2023

Referrals and second opinions

Getting a referral for your leg or foot condition

It may be necessary for you to be referred to a specialist as part of your leg or foot care.  Specialists in leg and foot care include:

  • Vascular surgeon
  • Vascular nurse specialist
  • Tissue viability nurse specialist
  • Podiatrist
  • Lymphoedema specialist

Your local clinician will provide the day-to-day care, or you may do this yourself, or a relative may help. However, the specialist will have oversight of your treatment and progress and will review you either face to face at an appointment or perhaps by viewing photographs you or your local clinician share with them.

Referrals are usually made by your GP practice, but some services accept patient referrals.

Patients with diabetic foot ulcers must be referred to a specialist diabetic foot clinic. Any foot ulcers should be assessed by a podiatrist.

Patients with venous leg ulcers should be offered a referral to a vascular surgeon for a more details assessment of the veins and arteries in your legs. This is a minimally invasive assessment which could significantly improve the chances of your ulcer healing. If you have venous hypertension, intervention to your veins from a vascular specialist might help with healing and stop your wound or sore from coming back. Sometimes varicose veins can be treated by laser therapy. If you have peripheral arterial disease, you may require further investigations and the vascular team will be able to assess the need to improve the blood supply to your leg or whether your ulcer can be managed in other ways such as reduced/modified compression.  Ask your nurse or doctor for a referral to your local vascular team to talk about how their input might help you.

Patients with leg oedema which is not resolving should be referred to a lymphoedema specialist service.

Second opinions

Clinicians may request a second opinion from a specialist or another colleague. This may include asking your permission to securely share photographs of your leg, foot or wound, as well as information about your health.

Should you wish to request a second opinion you are entitled to do so. The General Medical Council which regulates doctors states that all doctors must ‘respect the patient’s right to seek a second opinion’. If you feel you would benefit from a second opinion, discuss this with your doctor or nurse as they would refer you. Explain your reasons for requesting a second opinion. If you’re concerned that your leg or foot condition is not improving you must discuss this with the clinicians delivering your care.