What is informed consent? Before giving consent, i.e. agreeing to any treatment, investigation or operation, the team caring for your child will tell you and your child will tell you and your child about:
- Why they think the treatment is necessary
- What it will involve
- What benefits they hope will result
- How good the chances are of getting such benefits
- 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. It is well known that they feel more secure and have the potential to recover more quickly if they know what is happening. Information will be given sensitively and in a way appropriate to their age and understanding. Please ask if you would like to 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.
What is a consent form?
A consent form is a piece of paper that is signed by those with parental responsibility and/or the child/young person 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.
Please note that it is important that a person with parental responsibility comes into the hospital with the child even if their consent form is signed ahead of time. The staff may need to discuss the procedure again with you.
Who has 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 the 1st December 2003 do not automatically have parental responsibility.
People looking after the child like childminders, grandparents or schoolteachers do not automatically have parental responsibility, but parents can authorise them to make medical decisions for the child. For example, many schools seek explicit agreement in advance from parents that teachers may consent to any treatment that becomes necessary whilst the children are in their care
This can be obtained from the leaflet "Consent – A guide for parents". There is a similar one written for children and young people. They are available in the outpatient department and in all wards and departments or you can order one from the NHS Responseline on 08701 555 455 or read it on the Department of Health website by clicking here.