All A to Z Topics

Consent to treatment

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 a preliminary explanation by a clinician.
When consent is not needed
There are a few exceptions when treatment may be able to go ahead without the person's consent, even if they are capable of giving their permission.
Assessing the capacity to consent
All adults are presumed to have sufficient capacity to decide on their own medical treatment, unless there is significant evidence to suggest otherwise.
Children and teenagers
People aged 16 or over are entitled to consent to their own treatment, and this can only be overruled in exceptional circumstances.
Life-prolonging treatments
There are rules governing when life-sustaining treatment can be withheld or withdrawn when a person is no longer available to give consent.