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.

Consultation: Emerging biotechnologies

31 March 2011

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics will be soon launching a call for views and evidence on the ethical issues raised by emerging biotechnologies. By looking at both current examples, such as synthetic biology and nanotechnology, and taking lessons from older cases, such as GM crops and IVF, the Council is interested in the way society and policy makers respond to new biotechnologies and how benefits from these technologies can be secured in an ethically appropriate manner.

Find out more about the Working Party and sign up for alerts about this consultation here.

Consultation: incentives in organ and gamete donation

1 May 2010

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics is consulting on incentives in organ and gamete donation, payment for participation in non-therapeutic research and control by the donor over donated material. The consultation closes on 12 July 2010.

Professor Bobbie Farsides, formerly of the Centre of Medical Law and Ethics, is a member of the Council’s Working Party.

Consultation: GMC End of life treatment and care guidance

16 June 2009

The General Medical Council is consulting on draft guidance entitled End of life treatment and care: Good practice in decision-making. The consultation closes on 13 July 2009. You can listen to the talks given at a consultative conference and an interview with the Chair of the GMC’s End of Life Care Working Group, Lady Christine Eames. When approved, the new guidance will replace the 2002 guidance entitled Withholding and Withdrawing Life-Prolonging Treatments, which was challenged (albeit eventually unsuccessfully) in the Lesley Burke case.