It is important that you feel you have been given enough information before you agree to a particular treatment or procedure. You are always free to say no or to ask for more information.
There are different ways in which you can give your consent. This could be simply by offering up your arm when a nurse asks to take your blood pressure for example. More often however, you will be asked to give your spoken consent, and in certain circumstances, you will also be asked to sign a consent form and receive a copy of it.
Giving your consent
The health professional must explain the risks and benefits of the treatment or examination, any available alternative procedures and the risks and benefits if you choose to do nothing for the time being. You may also be given some written information about the procedures that are being considered for you. It is important that you understand the information you have been given – ask questions if you don’t understand or if you want more information. The staff member who seeks your consent will be able to perform the procedure, or will have had special training to take consent for it .
When giving consent to surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, you will usually be asked to sign a consent form - a written record that you have agreed to the planned treatment. The main benefits and risks associated with the treatment will be written on the consent form before you sign it. The Royal Marsden has produced a series of detailed consent forms that cover most investigations and treatments we offer. You will be given a copy of this document, and should be given the time you need to read it.
Your treatment plan may involve one or more treatments, for example, surgery and/or chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. You will be asked to sign consent forms for each treatment. Before each treatment starts, you will be asked to confirm that you agree to treatment.
What if I change my mind?
It is important to remember that once you have made a decision about treatment, you can change your mind at any time, even after you have signed a consent form.
If you agree to take part in a research project or clinical trial, you will also be given written information and asked to sign a consent form. Again, you can withdraw your consent at any time.
Can anyone else give their consent to my treatment?
You are the only person who can give consent; no one else can do this for you. Special arrangements however are made on behalf of adults who lack the capacity to make their own decisions. Parents and legal guardians also able to give consent on behalf of young people up to the age of 18.