Consent and right to refuse treatment in hospital

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Consent and right to refuse treatment in hospital

You have the right to a clear explanation of any proposed treatment, including the risks and benefits, before you agree to it. If treatment involves an anaesthetic you will be asked to sign a consent form.

Even if others consider it unwise, you have the right to refuse treatment as long as you understand what that might mean.

If you lack the capacity to consent to proposed treatment because you are unconscious or have a brain disorder like dementia, a doctor must act in your best interests. It is not possible for a relative to give consent on your behalf.

Since April 2007 (October 2007 in Wales), if you lack the capacity to make a decision about serious medical treatment and have no close relatives to support you or represent your views, medical staff are required to appoint an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) to represent your interests.

You can make an ‘advance directive’ indicating your wishes about treatments should you lose mental capacity in the future. From October 2007, this will be known as an ‘advance decision’.

From October 2007, you can appoint a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) to someone to make health and welfare decisions on your behalf if you lose capacity in the future.

Travel to hospital

If your health condition or disability makes using public transport or getting in and out of a car difficult, you may be eligible for non-emergency NHS transport. There may also be a voluntary driver scheme that can help if you cannot use public transport.

If you receive the Pension Credit Guarantee Credit you can get help with reasonable travel costs, including parking. Ask for details before your appointment. Otherwise, you may be eligible for help towards travel costs through the NHS low-income scheme.

Some hospital car parks offer special rates for regular users. Some cancer charities can help if travel costs for frequent treatment cause financial difficulties.

If you are visiting a close relative or close friend you may get help from the Social Fund. There is no other Government scheme to help hospital visitors.

What’s next?

Ask your GP practice about non-emergency NHS transport. Your local Age Concern may know if there is a voluntary driver scheme.

Contact the out-patient clinic if you receive Pension Credit Guarantee Credit and ask how to claim your travel costs. If you need to take a taxi, check this is acceptable with them beforehand.

Call the Help with Health Costs helpline and ask for an application form if you think the low-income scheme could help you.

Ask at the department you attend or contact the hospital Patient Advice and Liaison Service to find out about hospital parking concessions.