Having confidence to ask staff about things you want to know about services, health, illness, side effects of medication, etc. isn't always easy. Remember:

  • you have a right to ask
  • you have a right to bring someone with you to most appointments and reviews. Take a look at our booklet Your Care, this may help you think about some of the questions you want to ask

Listed below are some things that may help you, including checklists, prompts, planning tools, and others.

You can ask your doctor anything you like, including:

  • about your illness
  • how your medication works
  • what treatment choices you have
  • If you'd like a second opinion
  • If you'd like a different doctor

They will either be able to help you themselves, or find someone else who can help 

Click here to download the leaflet 'How to get more out of your appointment with your psychiatrist'

Medication can be a key treatment for many illnesses and conditions. 

You can ask any of our staff about medication, its uses and side effects. 

Mental Health

Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust also subscribes to a national website to improve access to good quality information about medicines used in mental health, enabling choice and better communication on issues such as side effects.

Information about the types of medicines that might be used for a particular mental health condition can be looked up by selecting the condition from a drop down menu. So for depression for example this gives an overview of the main alternatives to treating depression, including self-help, talking therapies and medicines. It then gives more information about the medicines available; a section on looking at concerns raised about whether antidepressants work; which are most commonly used as the first treatment, more specialised etc, with a link to national guidelines such as NICE. There is also chart comparing medicines used for depression, which can help choice by showing which are most likely to cause drowsiness, weight gain or other aspects that can be a concern. The website tries to be very balanced, so for instance as well as its own chart comparing antidepressants, it also provides a link to the Depression Alliance website, so that you can see what what they say about making choices between treatments.

A news section gives updates on new medicines eg lisdexamfetamine for ADHD, discontinued medicines such as tryptophan and updates such as progress in reducing the use of antipsychotics in dementia.

For each medicine there is also very detailed information covering what it is; the usual dose; how to take it; how long it might take to work; how long to take it for; is it addictive; how to stop it; side effects and how to manage them; interactions with food, alcohol or other medicines; effects of smoking; driving; starting a family and much more. Choice and Medication tries to provide information in a way that people can apply to their individual situation, so in some sections there is also advice about questions that might be useful to ask about your treatment.

The ‘Choice and Medication’ website can be accessed here


The BUMPS website gives information about the effects of medication on pregnancy. 

The site has an A-Z list of leaflets about all sorts of medication, and you can also register your own pregnancy and record your expereinces to help improve the advice given by the UK Teratology Information Service (UKTIS). UKTIS is a not-for-profit organisation funded by Public Health England on behalf of the UK Health Departments.

The information is not intended to replace the individual care and advice of your health care provider. The decision to start, stop, continue or change a medicine before or during pregnancy should be made together with your health care provider. When deciding whether or not to use a medicine in pregnancy you need to weigh up how the medicine might improve your and/or your unborn baby’s health against any possible problems that the drug may cause.

You can also sign up to record your pregnancy, and the effects of any medication, to help women in the future.

When you’re worried about someone or something, it can sometimes be difficult making people understand what’s wrong and why you’re concerned. The SBARD structure helps you to organise your thoughts before you call so that you can get the help you need. Things to remember would include:

  • Think about who might be able to help, and who you could contact - have you got a copy of a care plan, 
  • Make sure you take the person’s name that you speak to, and a contact number 
  • Talk about the options - there may be solutions that you’ve not considered. 

If you're a carer have you got the consent of the person to be involved in their care? If so, please contact their main worker. If not, please call our Family Liaison Team on 0800 027 2128 or email dhcft.familyliaison@nhs.net

SBARD is an acronym to remind you how to go about asking for help - these are the main things to think about:

  • Situation: Who is calling and why? Be clear about the situation.
  • Background: How has this come about? What’s the history?
  • Assessment: What are the problems that you and the person you’re calling identify?
  • Recommendation: What do both you and the person you’re calling feel would help?
  • Decision: What has been agreed, and who will do what

Ask for one of our SBARD cards.

You have the right to ask for a review of your care if you feel you need one. This might be because: things have changed in your life; services have changed; or you want to take your life on a new track. You can:
  • Ask for a review any time - we'll arrange one wherever possible
  • Bring someone with you, such as a friend, family member, or advocate
  • Talk to a worker before the review


    Ask your worker about this

You are entitled to see records about you, and will often be given copies of documents, such as care plans and letters. If you want to see your whole record, you can ask for this. Some things may have be restricted, but we want you to have as much as possible.

When asking to access a health record, you are requesting personal information either about yourself or another person who you are representing – this could be a relative, someone you are a carer for, or a friend. These types of request fall under the Data Protection Act, or the Access to Health Records Act for deceased persons. Our process follows the principles of these acts. 

We hold the following types of health records:

  • Mental health - adult and older adult (including learning disabilities and substance misuse)
  • Child health - child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS)
  • Child health - community paediatricians
  • Child health - Derby city health visitors

Click here to download the 'Your Information, Your Rights' leaflet

To find out more, see our patient record requests page

Changing your worker

If you want to change your worker you can ask for this. Sometimes you just don't get on with another person, or may have cultural reasons for your preferences, or have had damaging experiences of abuse or violence that mean you prefer to work with a worker of a particular gender. Ask your worker, or the service manager.

Asking for a 2nd opinion

You can ask for a 2nd medical opinion if you like. There is no legal right for this, but mostly it will be possible. To find out more, see NHS Choices

Your right to choose your service

If you are referred to a specialist, you have the right to choose which hospital or clinic to go to for your outpatient appointments. You are also able to choose which consultant-led team will be in charge of your treatment, as long as that team provides the treatment you require. Therefore, if you wish to be treated by a particular consultant for a procedure, you can choose to have your outpatient appointments at the hospital where the consultant works, and to be treated by that consultant's team – but this doesn't necessarily mean you'll be seen by the consultant themselves.

You do not have a legal right to choice if:

  • you need urgent or emergency treatment
  • you are serving in the armed forces
  • you are accessing maternity services
  • you are detained under the Mental Health Act
  • you are detained in or on temporary release from prison, in court, an immigration removal centre, or a secure children's home
  • if you are referred to high security psychiatric services or drug and alcohol misuse services provided by local authorities

Visit GOV.UK to read more about your legal rights to choice in the NHS.