Giving consent

"Informed consent" is vital.

Giving consentWhen children are treated or examined in a hospital, or before they have an operation, the staff will have made sure that the parent or guardian has agreed that this can go ahead, and that they understand what it is they are agreeing to. This is called informed consent.

Before asking for informed consent, the doctors and nurses caring for your child will tell you both about:

  • Why they think the treatment is necessary
  • What will happen during the treatment or surgery
  • What they hope will improve as a result
  • How good the chances are of success
  • Whether there are any alternative treatments
  • What may happen if treatment is refused

Always ask questions if something is unclear. Always say if there is something you don't want to happen.

Children and young people also have the right to know what is wrong with them and what treatment is being offered. Information will be given sensitively and in a way appropriate to their age and understanding. Please ask if you would like help in explaining things to your child.

For some treatments you will be asked to sign a consent form.

Who can give consent?

Those with parental responsibility.
   
Young people of 16-18 years of age.
   
Children and young people under 16 years of age may be able to give consent if they fully understand what is involved.

You need to come into the hospital with your child even if the consent form has been signed.

What is a consent form?

A consent form is a piece of paper that is signed by those with parental responsibility, your child, or both of you, when you have made an informed decision to go ahead with the treatment or operation. It should show:

  • Your child's name, address, date of birth and the date it is signed.
  • The correct test or treatment, or operation you are agreeing to. 
  • The main risks and benefits of the investigation, treatment or operation. 
  • The name of the person who discussed these with you and who you can contact if you wish to ask further questions. 
  • A place for your and your child's signature (appropriate to age and ability). You should be given one copy of this sheet. 

Who can sign?

To sign the consent form, you need to have what is known as parental responsibility. Mothers automatically have parental responsibility for their children.
   
Fathers also have parental responsibility if they were married to the mother when the child was conceived or born, or if they got married later and if they register the birth.
   
Unmarried fathers who are named on the birth certificates of children born prior to 1 December 2003 do not automatically have parental responsibility. 
   
People looking after the child, such as childminders, grandparents or schoolteachers, do not automatically have parental responsibility, but parents can authorise them to make medical decisions for the child.

Further information

This can be obtained from the leaflet "Consent - A guide for parents" (attached). There is a similar leaflet written for children and young people (attached). They are available in the Outpatients Department and in all wards and departments or you can order one from the NHS Responseline on 08701 555 455 or read it on their website www.dh.gov.uk/consent 

 

AttachmentSize
Consent guide for parents50.11 KB
Consent guide for children46.65 KB

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