Get help now Make a donation

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.

Planning ahead for treatment

This page covers:

Why might I want to plan ahead?

Planning ahead is a way for you to set out how you want to be treated in future, so health professionals can follow your wishes.

Generally, you have the right to decide if you want to consent to treatment. But if something happens in the future which means you lack capacity to decide:

  • The health professional in charge of your care will normally decide for you, unless it's a serious treatment.
  • Their decision will be based on what they think will be in your best interests. But this might not be exactly what you want.

If you're sectioned, health professionals should take your wishes into account when treating you, but they don't have to follow them.

How can I plan ahead?

There are 3 main ways you can plan ahead and set out your wishes for future treatment:

  • Make an advance statement. This is a written document setting out your preferences for medical and healthcare treatment. It includes only your treatment preferences, not refusals. It is not legally binding. You can ask a health professional to follow this document if you ever lack capacity to make these decisions yourself.
  • Make an advance decision. This can be a written document or spoken statement of instructions. It sets out any medical and healthcare treatment you want to refuse. It includes only your treatment refusals, not preferences. It is legally binding. It can be used in the future at any point where you lack capacity to make decisions. For more information, see our page on advance decisions.
  • Make a lasting power of attorney. This is a legal document that lets you choose someone to make decisions for you. For more information, see our  page on lasting power of attorney.

You can find out more about each of these ways to plan ahead in our pages on the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Find information about crisis services and planning options in our pages on crisis services.

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.

arrow_upwardBack to Top