A Global Analysis
Edited by Thierry Vansweevelt and Nicola Glover-Thomas
Chapter 4: Informed consent: the UK perspective
This chapter considers the current legal position of informed consent in the UK. Recognizing and protecting the rights of individuals to be self-determining has now garnered support in all aspects of healthcare provision and its regulation. While medical paternalism has lost ground, the support of individual autonomy and the informed consent mandate may be tempered by external factors in practice, such as resource allocation, questions over mental capacity, age or a patient’s desire to have knowledge (or not) about his or her medical status. At the micro level, there is greater judicial willingness to adopt a broader interpretation of capacity in a number of areas; while at a macro level, the UK’s ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has presented the potential to further change the legal landscape around mental incapacity, which could directly impact on informed consent. Since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board , clinicians also face a heightened level of information disclosure required of them. With patients now having a right to be fully apprised of all material risks relating to all treatment options, and the level of information sharing now being a decision for patients rather than clinicians, all healthcare workers face a much more stringent disclosure threshold.
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