Consent to treatment

Why do we need your consent ?

Competent adult patients have the right in law to agree to or to refuse any treatment. The hospital cannot carry out any treatments without your consent. This can be verbal consent for minor procedures, or written consent for more significant procedures.

What is informed consent?

It is having enough information and understanding of your proposed treatment, to make a decision to go ahead with it or not.

It is important
  • That you know the benefits as well as the significant risks, side effects or possible complications of any treatment, before you decide to go ahead. Some common examples of risks are infection, a blood clot or a reaction to a drug.
  • That you are involved in the decision making process with the doctor, nurse or health professional.
  • That you know how to get the information you need to make that decision.

Getting the information you need

  • The outpatient visit offer a very important opportunity to find out as much as possible about the planned treatment and what you are agreeing to.

  • You may not be able to take in everything that is said at first; but you will get other opportunities to ask questions both at your medical check-up with a nurse specialist; or immediately before your treatment with a doctor, nurse specialist or health professional.

  • Please remember that the doctor, nurse and other health professionals are here to help you, and to answer any questions you may have.

  • General anaesthetic and sedation have their own special risks: if you have any worries about this you will have the opportunity to talk to your anaesthetist (also a trained doctor) before your operation.

  • If you prefer, you can have a friend or relative with you at your medical check-up to support you.

  • In many cases you will be given a written patient information leaflet, to reinforce what the doctor has explained to you about the treatment.

  • If English is not your first language - we may be able to arrange an interpreter/advocate to help you if you 'phone 020 7288 5551, 10 days before your medical check-up.

When should you give consent to a procedure?

Only when you have enough information from the person obtaining your consent for you to understand:
  • what is planned,
  • why it is planned,
  • possible alternatives (one of which may be to do nothing), and
  • any significant risks.
Please use this information to decide whether or not to agree to treatment.

How final is it?

Once signed or agreed it is possible for you to change your mind and you can cancel the treatment.

You can refuse treatment; but you cannot insist that the doctor provides a treatment that is different to that proposed, if she/he feels that it is not in your best interest.

Other things to consider when signing the consent form

Teaching and further training

Experienced doctors and nurses will have overall responsibility for your treatment. However, teaching medical and nursing students and qualified specialists is an important part of the work of the hospital. During the time that you are being treated you may be asked to give your permission (consent) for students to examine you and/or present clinical information about you to others. If you have any objection to this, please tell your nurse or doctor. A decision to refuse permission will not affect your treatment or care.


We cannot guarantee that the same doctor who has been treating you so far will actually perform the treatment; but we can assure you that the doctor will be fully qualified.

Specialist nurses

Specialist nurses perform certain treatments where the same consent criteria apply. However, a specialist nurse will not carry out any procedure under general anaesthetic.


You will not be involved in research without your consent.

Any research on human tissue (such as diseased skin, muscle, or organs) removed for medical reasons during an operation or investigation, will also require your separate written consent on the consent form.

Extra procedures

Do write on the form any extra procedures that you do not want the doctor to include in your treatment.

Any further questions?

If you have any further questions about consenting to operation, investigation or treatment, please write to the Risk Management Department, The Whittington Hospital, London N19 5NF.
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