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Key points

  • You must respect the rights of patients to be fully involved in decisions about their care.
  • You must obtain consent from patients who have capacity before starting treatment.
  • Making decisions about treatment for patients who lack capacity is governed in England and Wales by the Mental Capacity Act 2005, in Scotland by the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 and in Northern Ireland by the Mental Capacity Act 2016.
  • Patients over the age of 16 are presumed to have capacity to consent.
  • You should involve children and young people (aged 16-17) in discussions about their treatment.
  • The legal framework for treating children and young people who lack the capacity to consent differs across the UK.
  • You should encourage children and young people to involve their parents in decision-making.
This Guidance does not change what you must do under the law.