Consent to treatment

Explains your rights to consent to (or refuse) treatment, including what 'consent' means, when you can be treated without your consent, and how to make a complaint.

Why might I want to plan ahead?

You have the right to decide if you want to consent to treatment. But if you lack capacity to make those decisions, the healthcare professional in charge of your care will normally make them for you (unless it is serious treatment). These decisions will be based on what they think will be in your best interests, but this might not be exactly what you want.

Planning ahead is a way for you to set out how you want to be treated in future, so healthcare professionals can follow your wishes. If you're sectioned, healthcare professionals should also take these wishes into consideration when treating you, even though they don’t have to follow them.

How can I plan ahead?

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

  • Make an advance statement. This is a non-legally binding written document that sets out your preferences for medical and healthcare treatment. You can ask a professional to follow this document if you ever lose capacity to make these decisions yourself.
  • Make an advance decision. This is a legally-binding statement of instructions about what medical and healthcare treatment you want to refuse in the future, in case you lose the capacity to make these decisions. See our legal page on advance decisions for more information about this.
  • Make a lasting power of attorney. This is a legal document that lets you appoint someone to make decisions for you. See our legal page on lasting power of attorney for more information about this.

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

This information was published in March 2018. We will revise it in 2020.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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