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05th October 2015

Consent – Yes or No?

Consent - yes or noWhat is informed consent?

Recently I was asked to agree to something important. I didn’t feel I had enough information to make a decision there and then and I felt very unsure about agreeing to it. We know that obtaining informed consent helps to ensure that people are not deceived or coerced into agreeing to something. We must also be aware that patients may lack the capacity to understand information or make a decision, and great care should be taken in obtaining meaningful and informed consent.

Consent to treatment is the principle that a person must give their permission before they receive any type of medical treatment or examination. This must be done on the basis of an initial explanation by a healthcare professional. Therefore informed consent is ‘permission granted in full knowledge of the possible consequences, typically that which is given by a patient for treatment with knowledge of the possible risks and benefits.’

Consent must be valid

For consent to be valid it must be voluntary and informed and the person consenting must have the capacity to make the decision. The decision to either consent or not to consent to treatment must be made by the person themselves and must not be influenced by pressure from anyone else. They must be aware whether there are reasonable alternative treatments and what will happen if treatment does not go ahead. They must also be capable of giving consent, which means they must understand the information given to them and can use it to make an informed decision.

Types of consent

I have come across a lot of confusion in the past about what should be considered verbal consent and whether or not consent should be in writing. Verbal consent can be given to say the person is happy to have a minor procedure such as an ear examination, or written consent should be obtained to agree to have invasive treatment such as an operation. Patients may passively allow treatment to take place such as holding out their arm to show they are happy to have a vaccination but they must still have the ability to use and understand information given in order to make that decision

CQC Consent Mythbuster

There’s a link below to Nigel Sparrow’s recent Mythbuster about the issue of consent in general practice in relation to minor surgery carried out in general practice which makes it clear what the CQCs expectations are in this area.


CQC Mythbusters – Consent for Minor Injury

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

Alison Lowerson

GP Specialist

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