Consent to treatment
Explains your rights around giving consent to or refusing treatment. Find out what consent means, when you could be treated without your consent, and how to make complaints.
Making complaints about consent to treatment
You can challenge or complain about your consent to treatment for a mental health problem. You might feel that:
- You've received treatment that you haven't given consent to.
- You were in a situation where it was not lawful to treat you without consent.
There are generally 3 steps you can take to challenge this:
- Speak to someone informally. Depending on the problem, you might want to first try resolving it by informally talking to the person responsible for your treatment. For example, this could be your hospital doctor or psychiatrist.
- Make a formal complaint. If step 1 doesn't resolve the problem, you can ask that person or organisation for their formal complaints procedure. This will involve writing a letter to explain the problem and stating what you'd like to happen next.
- Make a legal challenge. There are different types of legal claims you could make. The type you choose will depend on what you want to achieve:
- A judicial review. This is a legal challenge to the way a public authority has made a decision, or has done or not done something lawfully.
- A clinical negligence claim. This is when you claim compensation because the care you received from a health professional was negligent. For more information, see our pages on clinical negligence.
- An application to the Court of Protection. This would be relevant if someone needs permission from the Court to make decisions about your health, welfare, financial affairs or property. For more information, see our page on the Court of Protection.
For more information about each of these steps, see our pages on complaining about health and social care.
These are organisations whose role is of a public nature. This includes:
- NHS hospitals and employees
- local authorities and their employees
- some nursing and personal care accommodation providers
- prison staff
- courts and tribunals, including Mental Health Tribunals
- government departments and their employees
- statutory bodies and their employees (for example the Information Commissioner’s Office).
In law, negligence is an act or failure to act (omission), that doesn't meet the level of appropriate care expected, which results in injury or loss.
If a doctor or health professional is negligent when giving you medical treatment, this is called 'clinical negligence'.Visit our full listing of Legal Terms
This information was published in September 2022. We will revise it in 2025.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.