What is consent?
Consent is your agreement for a healthcare professional to provide care. Consent is your right to determine what will happen to you and your body.
Consent is more than your signature on a consent form.
What to expect
For you to give your consent, it is important that you have received enough information to make a decision. The information should include the benefits and risks of the planned care or treatment along with any other options.
You should be asked to provide consent before the planned care, treatment or examination.
You should not be placed under any pressure to make a decision.
The person who explains the planned treatment or examination should be competent in performing it themselves. They should have knowledge and experience to answer your questions or concerns.
If the staff member taking your consent does not perform the procedure, they will be trained to take your consent.
You should also be given written information to help you make your decision.
When it is not possible to give consent and what is capacity?
To give consent a person has to have capacity. Capacity is where a person can understand and remember the information given to them. The person should also be able to weigh up the pros and cons of the information provided.
For further information on capacity and how it is assessed, please see the NHS.uk website ‘Consent to treatment, assessing capacity.’ This includes respecting personal beliefs and determining a person’s best interests.
If someone does not have capacity, the healthcare professionals can go ahead and give treatment if they believe it in the person’s best interest. However, steps are always taken to discuss the situation with the person’s friends or relatives before making any decision.
Young people, if they are able to, can usually give consent themselves. But someone with parental responsibility may need to give consent if the person is under 16 to have treatment.
The doctors and healthcare professionals will spend time explaining this if you, a friend or relative does not have capacity or can’t give consent for any other reason.
Is consent recorded and how long does it last?
Consent is not a one off decision. You will continue to have opportunities to ask questions and can change your mind at any point.
Not every part of your care will require written consent. You may give your consent verbally, or even through your actions, such as rolling up your sleeve and offering your arm for a blood test.
In some circumstances it is law for you to give written consent and a signature is required on a consent form. The form is a record of the discussion that has taken place. It also is a checklist of the information that has been given to you.
We ask for written consent in the following situations:
- If the treatment is invasive (such as surgery) and involves risks
- If the procedure involves an anaesthetic or if your consciousness will be impaired by being sedated.
- If the treatment is part of a research project approved by the hospital trust.
If written consent is taken, you should be given a copy of the form.
We hope this information is helpful in understanding the consent process.