Patient Consent

Consent to Treatment

Consent to treatment is the principle that 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, organ donation or something else.  The principle of consent is an important part of medical ethics and the 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.

These terms are explained below:

  • voluntary – 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 medical staff, friends or family informed – the person must be given all of the information in terms of what the treatment involves, including the benefits and risks, whether there are reasonable alternative treatments, and what will happen if treatment doesn’t go ahead
  • capacity – the person must be capable of giving consent, which means they understand the information given to them and they can use it to make an informed decision If an adult has the capacity to make a voluntary and informed decision to consent to or refuse a particular treatment, their decision must be respected. This is still the case even if refusing treatment would result in their death, or the death of their unborn child. If a person doesn’t have the capacity to make a decision about their treatment, the healthcare professionals treating them can go ahead and give treatment if they believe it’s in the person’s best interests. But clinicians must take reasonable steps to seek advice from the patient’s friends or relatives before making these decisions.


If a patient would like a chaperone in the consultation room then they are free to request one, either when booking the appointment or at any time during the consultation. 

Information Sharing Consent

Most patients understand and expect that relevant information must be shared within the direct care team to provide their care. GPs can share relevant information with those who provide or support direct care to a patient, unless the patient has objected.

The usual basis for sharing information for direct care is the patient’s consent, whether that is explicit or implied. GPs may rely on implied consent to access relevant information about the patient or to share it with those who provide (or support the provision of) direct care to the patient if all of the following are met:

  1. You are accessing the information to provide or support the individual patient’s direct care, or are satisfied that the person you are sharing the information with is accessing or receiving it for this purpose.
  2. Information is readily available to patients, explaining how their information will be used and that they have the right to object. This can be provided in leaflets and posters, on websites, and face to face. It should be tailored to patients’ identified communication requirements as far as practicable.
  3. You have no reason to believe the patient has objected.
  4.  You are satisfied that anyone you disclose personal information to understands that you are giving it to them in confidence, which they must respect.

Consent for others to view medical records

Patients may request that others are allowed access to their medical records, either for the purposes of getting test results, asking questions about their health, or speaking to the GP Surgery directly about the patient.  

This requires a patient consent  form completing (patient online proxy consent form 2021) and handing into the practice if the request for access is ongoing (one-off requests may not require the form but will still require consent).  

A patient’s medical records is extremely sensitive information and this decision should not be taken lightly.  The consent can be withdrawn at any time.