What is valid consent?

For consent to be valid, it must be voluntary and informed, and the person consenting must have the capacity to make the decision.

The meaning of these terms are:

  • Voluntary – the decision to either consent or not to consent to treatment must be made by the person, and must not be influenced by pressure from medical staff, friends or family
  • Informed – the person must be given all of the information about what the treatment involves, including the benefits and risks, whether there are reasonable alternative treatments, and what will happen if treatment does not go ahead
  • Capacity – the person must be capable of giving consent, which means they understand the information given to them and can use it to make an informed decision

Consent to treatment

Consent to treatment means a person must give permission before they receive any medical treatment, test or examination. This must be done on the basis of a full explanation.

Consent can be communicated in any way and must always be documented.

When consent is not needed

There are some exceptions when treatment may be able to go ahead without the person’s consent, even if they’re capable of giving their permission.

Some examples:

  • Incapacitated (e.g. unconscious)
  • Advance decisions / DNACPR / ReSPECT forms

For more information about Capacity and Consent, click here.