Consent to treatment means a person must give permission before they receive any type of medical treatment, test or examination.

This must be done on the basis of an explanation by a clinician.

Consent from a patient is needed regardless of the procedure, whether it’s a physical examination or something else.

The principle of consent is an important part of medical ethics and international human rights law.

Defining 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

How consent is given

Consent can be given:

  • verbally – for example, a person saying they’re happy to have an X-ray
  • in writing – for example, signing a consent form for surgery
  • implied or non-verbal – A patient may also give non-verbal consent as long as they understand the treatment or examination about to take place. An example would be to hold out an arm for a blood test.

Patients can withdraw consent at any time and, if this occurs, clinicians must stop the procedure safely, listen to the concerns of the patient and explain the consequences of not finishing the procedure.

Consent from children and young people

If they’re able to, consent is usually given by patients themselves.

But someone with parental responsibility may need to give consent for a child up to the age of 16 to have treatment.

Consent at Hall Green Health

Hall Green Health is committed to ensuring that valid consent is obtained whereever possible and appropriate. Hall Green Health have a complete policy surrounding consent and how it is applied at the practice. This policy is available below.

Page last reviewed: 29 December 2023