If you treat children in your practice how do you gain consent?

Apr 26, 2022

16 and 17 year olds can give consent to treatment providing they have ‘capacity’.

What does ‘capacity’ mean?

Can they…

  • Understand the information being given to them.
  • Retain the information.
  • Weigh up the information in order to make a decision.

Patients who are aged 16 or over on the date they attend for treatment do not need parental consent for physiotherapy.

You should not share confidential information about 16-17 year olds with their parents, or others, unless you have specific permission to do so and/or you are legally obliged to.

It is good practice to seek to ensure that young people involve their families in their treatment decisions (if they agree to information being shared).

However, if a 16-17 year old specifically refuses to allow you to share information you should respect their decision.

If a 16 or 17 year old (with capacity) refuses treatment, in certain circumstances the parent or the court can over-rule the refusal of treatment.

Under 16 years

Children under 16 years of age may give their consent to treatment provided they have capacity.

This is referred to as Gillick Competent.

it is not necessary to obtain additional consent from the parent/person with parental responsibility.

However, it is good practice to persuade the child to inform their parent (unless this would be against the child’s best interests).

You must be aware that consent must be voluntary to be valid, and if you feel the child is under undue influence from another person, then you must consider if the child has given their own consent and whether it is valid.

If a child is deemed to have the capacity to make their own decisions, a parent/person with parental responsibility cannot override a child’s valid consent to treatment.

A parent/person with parental responsibility may be able to override a child’s refusal of treatment.

You should consider the context and reasons why a child may be unwilling to proceed with treatment and seek further advice as necessary.

Under 13 years

If the child does not have the capacity to give their own consent.

For example, they are too young or do not understand fully what is involved, then a parent/person with parental responsibility, or the court, may give consent on the child’s behalf.

To help you stay compliant you can purchase…

Guidelines for gaining consent from children.

This includes guidelines and a template to send out with a child’s first appointment detailing who has parental responsibility and can consent if required.

To stay up to date with HCPC compliance click here.


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