Obtaining valid consent

  1. In order for consent to be valid it must be given:
    1. voluntarily;
    2. by an appropriately informed person; and
    3. by a person who has the capacity to consent. If a patient lacks the capacity to consent then this should be obtained from someone authorised to act on the patient’s behalf.

Voluntary consent

  1. Voluntary consent means that the decision to consent or not to consent is made by the patient themselves based on informed consideration. Patients must not be coerced by healthcare professionals, relatives or others to accept a particular type of treatment or care, or in the sale and supply of optical appliances. You should be aware of situations in which patients may be vulnerable, for example, in domiciliary settings.

Informed consent

  1. Obtaining consent is part of an on-going discussion and decision making process between you and your patient rather than something that happens in isolation.
  2. You should satisfy yourself that the patient has in some way consented to all aspects of the care you are providing.
  3. When obtaining consent you must provide your patient with clear and accurate information presented in a way that they can understand.
  4. You must use your professional judgement to determine the most appropriate way of providing information to a patient. This could be in writing, including in a leaflet, or by talking to the patient, whether before or during their appointment.
  5. Registrants should make appropriate enquiries to help determine whether a patient has any particular information or communication problems as this may influence which type of consent you obtain and how you record it.
  6. You must consider any disabilities, literacy or language barriers that may affect a patient’s understanding and amend your communication approach to take account of this.
  7. You should not make assumptions about the patient’s level of knowledge or understanding and you should give them the opportunity to ask questions and take account of and respond to any concerns or expectations they may have expressed.
  8. Consent cannot be implied simply on the basis of a patient having attended an appointment, as the patient may not be sufficiently informed to provide valid consent. Consent cannot be presumed because it was given on a previous occasion. You must get a patient’s consent on each occasion that it is needed, for example, when there is a change in treatment or service options.