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Thursday 24th May 2018

Consent guidance for doctors

20th May 2008

The General Medical Council has called for a new way in which doctors interact with their patients to ask for their consent for treatment.


The GMC has released unprecedented guidance, which has stressed the importance of doctors sharing data about the potential "side effects and risks" of treatment.

The GMC presented their guidance using actors from the National Theatre in a play entitled 'Forecast Fog'.

One character with early-stage dementia is shown in different meetings with doctors, some of whom speak to his carer rather than speaking to him directly.

The new guidance is intended to update earlier releases. The emphasis is on improving relationships between doctors and patients so they can act in "partnership" to make decisions about treatment.

GMC head of standards and ethics Jane O'Brien said some doctors would need to broaden their understanding of their relationships with their patients.

"We would like to remind doctors and get them to see that consent is what the patient does, not what they do," she said.

"And that they need to engage more with patients in order to make good decisions."

The British Medical Association has given its support to the GMC guidance. However, it said it would hard for doctors to "find the time" to deal with patients in this way on an individual basis.

BMA medical ethics committee chairman Tony Calland said: "It's another burden that will be put on doctors and to some degree patients."

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