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Home > Patient information > Giving your consent > Guidance to Consent for the Healthcare Professional

Guidance to Consent for the Healthcare Professional

The following are for guidance and advice on current law, but Health Professionals must also be aware of any guidance on consent issued by their own regulatory bodies.

Reference guide to consent for examination or treatment.

This is a reference guide to consent for examination or treatment provides a comprehensive summary of the current law on consent, it also includes the requirements of regulatory bodies such as the General Medical Council where these are more stringent.

12 Key points on Consent: The Law in England

This one-page document summarises those aspects of the law on consent which arise on a daily basis. It is also available on the DOH website www.doh.gov.uk/consent

GMC – Consent; Patients and doctors making decisions together

This booklet replaces `Seeking Patients Consent: the Ethical Considerations (1998)’. It expands on the guidance in Good Medical Practice, which requires doctors to be satisfied that they have consent form a patient , or other valid authority, before undertaking any examination or investigation, providing treatment, or involving patients in teaching and research. This guidance sets out the principles on which good clinicians decisions should be based.

Human Tissues Authority Codes of Practice

One of the HTA’s statutory functions is to issue codes of practice, there are six in this series. Number 6 is for units involved in bone marrow and stem cell transplantation.

Numbers 1-5 are as follows:

Consent (1)

At the heart of the act lies the need to obtain consent for the removal, storage and use of human tissue or organs and the storage and use of whole bodies for certain scheduled purposes. This code gives guidance on the need for consent, and also addresses the closely related issues of communication and consultation with patients and their families which should support the consent process.

Donation of organs, tissue and cells for transplantation (2)

This code sets out guidance for the donation or organs, tissue and cells for transplantation and sets the standards practitioners are expected to meet. It includes the principles relating to consent, communication and donation for organs, part organs, tissue and cells. This code does not include domino and autologous donations.

Post Mortem Examination (3)

This code seeks to ensure that:

– Those close to the deceased person are given the opportunity to understand the reasons for hospital and coroners’ post mortems, the processes involved, and their rights in the decision-making process.

– The wishes of the deceased person and those close to them are known and fully understood.

– Organs and tissue are only retained following post mortem with consent or other lawful authorisation (such as that of the coroner) and

– General information about post mortem examinations is readily accessible.

Anatomical Examination (4)

This code sets out the requirements which must be met in order to obtain a licence to carry out an anatomical examination or store anatomical specimens. It is subject to and may be supplemented by, further conditions attached to any licence issued by the HTA.

– Removal, storage and disposal of human organs and tissues (5)

This code provides a model of good practice for all those involved in removing, storing and disposing of human organs or tissue, whether donated by living patients or removed from the body after death.

These codes give practical advice to those carrying out activities which lie within the HTA’s remit and lay down the standards expected. These are not a definitive guide to the law and licence holders should refer to the Act and keep themselves informed of legal developments.

Department of Health Guidance:

Seeking Consent – Working with People with Learning Difficulties

If your work involves treating or caring for people (anything from helping people with dressing to carrying out major surgery), you need to make sure you have their consent to what you propose to do, if they are able to give it. This respect for people’s rights to determine what happens to their own bodies is a fundamental part of good practice. It is also a legal requirement.

The first part of this booklet concentrates on people who have the capacity to give or withhold consent to treatment, while the second part gives guidance on how you should act if the person is not able to make their own decision. It should never be assumed that people are not able to make their own decisions simply because they have a learning disability. The third part looks at research and the final part looks at the particular issues which arise when considering if life-prolonging treatment should be withheld or withdrawn from a person.

Seeking Consent – Working with Older People

If your work involves treating or caring for people (anything from helping people with dressing to carrying out major surgery), you need to make sure you have their consent to what you propose to do, if they are able to give it. This respect for people’s rights to determine what happens to their own bodies is a fundamental part of good practice. It is also a legal requirement.

The first part of this booklet concentrates on older people who have the capacity to accept or refuse treatment or care, while the second part gives guidance on how you should act if the person is not capable of making their own decisions. It should never be assumed that people are not to make their own decisions because of their age or frailty. The third part looks at research and the final part looks at the particular issues which arise when considering if life-prolonging treatment should be withheld or withdrawn from a person.

Seeking Consent – Working with Children

If your work involves healthcare of any kind for children (in the healthcare context anything from helping a child t get dressed to carrying out major surgery, whether in hospital or in the child’s own home), you need to make sure you have consent to do what you propose to do. Obtaining such consent before providing care is both a fundamental part of good practice and a legal requirement. The process for obtaining consent will vary from simple situations such as assistance with dressing, when a questions `shall I help you’ should suffice if the child is able to understand, to complex situations where a considerable amount of information would be needed to support decision making.

Consent – Taking blood from those involved in Road Traffic Accidents to test for levels of Alcohol or Drugs

The Police Reform Act 2002 contains powers concerning taking blood specimens from those involved in road traffic accidents to test for levels of alcohol or drugs. The powers came into force on 1 October 2002. NHS Trusts should ensure that medical staff who may be responsible for care of those involved in road traffic accidents, in particular Accident & Emergency department medical staff, are aware of these provision. This guidance covers the implications for NHS Staff, but is not a comprehensive guide to the new Act.