Consultation: GMC Consent guidance

26 November 2018

We’re consulting on our revised Consent guidance which outlines what doctors should consider when discussing treatment and care with patients. 

The updated guidance focuses on the importance of communication, personalised conversations, and doctors and patients making decisions about treatment and care together.

We’ve restructured it and made it clearer, so it’s easier for doctors to apply in practice. And we’ve provided more advice, including steps to follow when making decisions in different circumstances.

The guidance reflects the law, policy and healthcare settings in all four countries of the UK.

Tell us what matters to you

The consultation is open until Wednesday 23 January 2019 and there are several ways you can take part.

Accessing the consultation in other languages and formats

We can provide paper copies and other formats (such as large print) on request. The consultation documents are also available in Welsh.

Please email for further details.


If you have any questions about the review or consultation please contact our Consent review team on or 020 7189 5404.

If you’d like to submit a consultation response in hardcopy please send it to: Consent Review Team, General Medical Council, 350 Euston Road, London NW1 3JN.

What have we done so far?

We’ve gathered evidence through our own and commissioned research as well as engagement, to understand what issues to address.

We’ve worked with our Task and Finish group who provided expert input from a legal, medical, health, social care and patient perspective to review the evidence.

We’ve now redrafted our guidance to:

  • focus on how doctors can support patient decision making and involve patients in decisions about their care as far as possible
  • focus on the importance of doctors finding out what is meaningful for their patients and helping them explore the different options
  • include practical suggestions and examples to explain how the principles apply
  • make it more accessible by referring less to the law and more to the principles on which the law is based.

Why are we updating the guidance?

Good consent practice is at the heart of the doctor-patient relationship, but we know it’s sometimes challenging to get this right. Our guidance sets out good practice principles for making decisions about care, from the treatment of minor conditions to major interventions with significant risks or side effects.

Since it was last published in 2008, there have been shifts in the legal, policy and workplace environments. Doctors are telling us that increasing pressures and demands on their practice can make it difficult to seek and record a patient’s consent in line with our guidance and the law.

We want to support doctors and patients to have meaningful conversations and to make shared decisions. Therefore we have updated the guidance to ensure that it is still clear and helpful, relevant to doctors’ needs, and consistent with the law.

We want the final guidance to be shaped by doctors on the medical front line, patients, and healthcare organisations. It’s therefore vital that we hear as many views as possible.


10 March 2017

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 27 Sussex Place, Regent’s Park, London NW1 4RG

29 March 2017 6pm (wine reception), 6.30pm-8.30pm (panel discussion)

This Progress Educational Trust event, which is sponsored by the British Fertility Society, will begin with a wine reception at 6pm followed by a panel discussion at 6.30pm. To reserve your free place, email sstarr [at]

The panel discussion will be chaired by FIONA FOX (Chair of Trustees at the Progress Educational Trust and Chief Executive of the Science Media Centre) with speakers PROFESSOR ADAM BALEN (Chair of the British Fertility Society), SALLY CHESHIRE (Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority), DR SIMON FISHEL (Founder and President of CARE Fertility) and DR RAJ MATHUR (Lead for Reproductive Medicine at St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester).

Fertility treatment ‘add-ons’ are procedures and treatments offered alongside IVF – sometimes at considerable expense to the patient – which may not be supported by robust evidence. The benefits, harms and appropriateness of add-ons are often open to question, and the role of add-ons in fertility treatment has become a matter of heated debate among professionals and a source of confusion for patients.

Recently, add-ons have been discussed and debated in a controversial episode of the BBC1 programme Panorama entitled Inside Britain’s Fertility Business, in two studies published by in the British Medical Journal, in a study published by the journal Human Reproduction, and in work undertaken by the UK’s fertility regulator – the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

Our event will ask:

• What counts as an add-on?

• Who is best placed to judge the evidence for add-ons, and what is the ideal standard of evidence?

• How much evidence is it reasonable to expect, before a treatment is offered to patients?

• What is the role of the HFEA, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and professional bodies such as the British Fertility Society, in helping patients navigate add-ons?

• What is the duty of the medical professional, and what is the role of patient choice?

Much of the event’s running time will be devoted to letting YOU put questions and comments to the speakers.

Seminar: Autonomy, ignorance and informed consent

10 November 2016

Arnon Keren (University of Haifa / King’s College London): Autonomy, ignorance and informed consent


5 December 2016, 16:00-17:30
King’s College London, Strand Campus, Somerset House East Wing, SW1.18 (Moot Court)

London Bioethics Colloquium 2016-17

All welcome, no need to register.


Event: On Informed Consent

5 February 2015

Forum for European Philosophy Event: On Informed Consent

Monday 9 February, 6.30 – 8pm, New Theatre, East Building, London School of Economics

Onora O’Neill, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge. She is also the current Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and a crossbench member of the House of Lords

Jonathan Wolff, Professor of Philosophy, University College London

Chair: Peter Dennis, LSE Fellow, Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method and Forum for European Philosophy Fellow

Informed consent is not the most fundamental ethical standard, but a means of securing respect for other, more basic standards or aims. It is neither possible nor required when public goods – such as sound currency or clean air – are to be provided. Where it is possible and can be required, as in transactions with individuals, it must be tailored to their cognitive capacities. Genuine, legitimating consent is demanding, and is not achieved by the ‘tick and click’ approaches used in many commercial transactions.

This event is free and open to the public. Podcasts of most FEP events are available online after the event. Further information and podcasts can be accessed here.

Suggested hashtag for this event for Twitter users: #LSEethicsmatters

Lectures: CMLE Lent Lectures on ‘Genetics, Ethics and the Law’

31 January 2013

Tuesday 5th February, 1-2pm, Moot Court, Somerset House
Dr Nina Hallowell, Programme Lead, PHG Foundation
“Cancer Genetics: Socioethics and Decision-making about Risk”

NB The remaining lectures are all on Thursdays.

Thursday 21st February, 1-2pm, Moot Court, Somerset House
Professor Ruth Chadwick, Distinguished Research Professor, University of Cardiff
“Risk and Responsibility: From Genome to Epigene”

Thursday 28th February, 1-2pm, Moot Court, Somerset House
Professor Mike Parker, ETHOX Centre, Oxford
“Ethical Problems and Genetics Practice”

Thursday 7th March, 1-2pm, Moot Court, Somerset House
Professor Anneke Lucassen, Professor of Clinical Genetics, University of Southhampton
“Genetic Medicine in the 21st Century: Do we Need to Approach Consent and Confidentiality Differently?”

Thursday 14th March, 1-2pm, Moot Court, Somerset House
Professor Graeme Laurie, Professor of Medical Jurisprudence,University of Edinburgh
“The Right Not to Know? Privacy Implications of Feedback Policies involving Genetic Data”

The lectures are open to all and are free to attend. Visitors without King’s identification will need to enter Somerset House via the East Wing Reception and ask for directions. This can be found towards the lower right-hand side of the courtyard behind the main King’s driveway on the Strand.

Job: Senior Research Officer – Contested Autonomy in Public Policy and Professional Practice

24 November 2010

University of Essex, Department of Philosophy

Ref: RE233
Salary: In the range £29,853-£30,747 per annum
Closing date: 06/12/10
Interviews are likely to be held: Monday, 20 December 2010

We are looking to make a fixed-term appointment of a Senior Research Officer to work on the research and knowledge exchange project Contested Autonomy in Public Policy and Professional Practice, based in the Department of Philosophy. The postholder will have a research background in applied ethics, law, and/or public policy. It is our expectation that the successful candidate will have an advanced degree in philosophy, law or related disciplines prior to taking up the post; consideration will be given, however, to candidates for whom completion of the PhD or equivalent is imminent. The successful candidate will have to be an effective communicator with commitment to fostering interdisciplinary dialogue. Applications from candidates with a legal background are encouraged. A degree in philosophy is not an essential requirement.

The AHRC funded project Contested Autonomy in Public Policy and Professional Practice is part of the Essex Autonomy Project (EAP) — a collaborative, interdisciplinary research initiative of the Philosophy Department at the University of Essex. Its aim is to investigate the ideal of self-determination in human affairs. The AHRC grant is co-directed by Prof. Wayne Martin and Dr. Fabian Freyenhagen and overseen by a Project Planning Team, comprising senior officers of the AHRC, members of EAP, and distinguished practitioners.

The appointee will participate in all aspects of the research project, and provide research assistance to the investigators. He or she will have special responsibility for preparing materials relevant to Public Policy Seminars and Knowledge Exchange activities. This will include responsibilities for preparing policy documents and/or curricular materials in one or more of the following areas: Unified Mental Health Legislation; the Mac-CAT(T); Autonomy and Paternalism: An International Comparison. He or she will be centrally involved in planning and routine running of the project, including organising and overseeing events, and taking partial editorial responsibility for resulting publications.

Appointment to this post will be fixed term for duration of one year, starting 1 January 2011 or as soon after as possible. Funding for the post is provided until 31 March 2011 in the first instance with the expectation of funding for the remainder pending final approval.

Further information is available here.

Job: Research Fellow – Medical Practitioners, Adolescents and Informed Consent

24 November 2010

University of Leeds

Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law, School of Law

Full-time, fixed term 1 January 2011 until 30 June 2012

Closing date 12:00 noon 6 December 2010

A research project funded by the Nuffield Foundation, Children and Families Programme

You will be a skilled and experienced researcher, and play a key role in a project examining the law on adolescent consent and refusals to medical treatment. Consulting with experts from a range of disciplines, you will highlight areas of legal ambiguity and uncertainty, make comparisons with European and international models, and suggest ways forward. Current problems and possible solutions will be debated in a series of four workshops designed to engage experts and stakeholders from legal, medical, philosophical, and social science backgrounds.

You will take responsibility for the day to day management of the project, including desk based literature searches, visiting and interviewing experts in the field, organising, administering and contributing to the workshops, and analysing the results, writing reports and writing academic papers. You will play a central role in the analysis of current law, the workshop discussions and alternative models. You will be able to organise the workshops, take minutes, keep records and accounts, and produce reports and academic papers. You will give and participate in academic presentations.

You should have a doctorate in a legal, social science or philosophy discipline,  an excellent track record of post doctoral medico-legal, socio-medical or bioethical research, and an interest in human rights law.

University Grade 7 (£29,853 – £35,646 p.a. It is likely that the appointment will be made at or below £31,671 p.a. since there are funding limitations which dictate the level at which the appointment can start).

Informal enquiries to Dr. Emma Cave (Principal Investigator of the Medical Practitioners, Adolescents and Informed Consent project), email, tel +44(0)113 343 5044.

Application form and job details are available here.   Alternatively these may be obtained from Anne Prendergast, email, tel +44 (0)113 343 7393.

Workshop and Lecture: Organ Donation and Consent

5 November 2010

Keele University

On the evening of Wednesday December 8th Martin Wilkinson will deliver his final Leverhulme lecture on: Reforms for the UK? ‘Presumed Consent’ and Organ Sales. Details can be found here.

A workshop on Organ Donation and Consent will then be held on Thursday December 9th 2010. The workshop is sponsored by the Wellcome Trust and free to attend. Places are limited so booking is essential. There are 10 places reserved for postgraduate students. Details of the event can be found here.

Radio: Inside the Ethics Committee

12 August 2010

Series 6 now available on iPlayer

1/4. Should a man who believes his life-saving surgery is a conspiracy to kill him be forced?

2/4. When should a seriously ill child have a say in their treatment?

3/4. Should the NHS pick up the pieces when private treatment has unexpected consequences?

4/4. A woman with a living will attempts suicide. Should she be admitted to intensive care?”

TV: Barbara Harris on Hardtalk

12 August 2010

Available on iPlayer until 23.59 on 12 August 2010. There is also a clip on the BBC News website.

Barbara Harris of Project Prevention talks to Stephen Sackur: “Project Prevention, founded by Barbara Harris, offers cash to drug addicts prepared to accept sterilisation or long term contraception. It has raised a storm of criticism in the US. Is Project Prevention little more than eugenics dressed up in a cloak of compassion?”