- Patient information
- Information about health rights
- Information for young people
- Information for carers
- Information about health services
- Other languages and formats
- British Sign Language
- Easy to read
- Making a complaint about the NHS
- Keeping your health information private
- Your health records
- The Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities
- The Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities - Information for you
- Access: your rights when using NHS health services in Scotland
- Communication and participation: the right to be informed, and involved
- Feedback and complaints: how to have a say about your care
- Confidentiality: how the NHS protects your personal health information
- Respect: the right to be treated with dignity and respect
- Safety: the right to safe and effective care
- Hospital waiting times: how quickly you should receive hospital care
- Large print
- Local NHS contact details
Making decisions about your health care and treatment
You can get this leaflet as a PDF file by clicking the icon at the top right.
- Consent means agreeing to something.
- Before a doctor or a nurse can examine you or treat you, they must ask you to give your consent.
- Treatment is something that a doctor or nurse gives you to make you better.
- Treatment might be an injection, medicine, an operation or something else.
- A dentist also gives you treatment.
You can give your consent in different ways
- You can do something to show you agree.
- You can say if you agree.
- You can sign a form if you agree.
You can ask questions before you give your consent to have treatment
Here are some examples of the things you can ask about.
- You can ask why you need to have something done.
- You can ask what will happen.
- You can ask how it will help you.
- You can ask what might go wrong.
- You can ask if something else can be done instead.
- You can ask what might happen if you refuse to have treatment.
- You can ask for more time to think about it.
- You can ask if you will have to pay.
- You can ask the name of the doctor who will look after you.
- You have the right to have your say about your health care and treatment.
- You have the right to ask questions if you do not understand anything.
- You have the right to say no to any treatment.
- You can have someone else with you when a doctor or nurse examines you.
- You do not have to be examined or treated by a student.
- You can ask for another doctor to see you.
You can find out more about your rights at the end of this page.
Some people cannot give consent to treatment
Some people cannot give consent because they do not understand things.
If you cannot give consent someone else may be able to give consent for you.
- If you are under 16, your mother or father may give consent for you.
- If you are 16 or over, you can ask someone to be your welfare attorney. Your welfare attorney can give consent for you. Other people cannot give consent for you unless they get permission from a court.
- If you cannot give your consent and there is no one else to give it for you, the law says a doctor can treat you if it will help you.
In an emergency
- In an emergency you may not be able to agree to treatment.
- Doctors can still treat you. But they can only do this if it will save your life or stop you suffering more serious harm.
If you have a mental illness or disorder
- Usually you have the same rights as anyone else.
- But if you are being cared for under the Mental Health Act, a doctor can say you need to go into hospital or need to have medical treatment, even if you don’t want to.
- If you disagree the doctor will have to ask a special court for permission to treat you. The court is called the Medical Appeal Tribunal.
If you are not happy about the way you have been treated
- If you are not happy you have the right to complain.
- If you want to complain you should tell the person who is treating you.
- Or you can ask to speak to a senior member of staff.
- Or you can ask to speak to the complaints officer.
You can find out more on this website, or you can ask at your GP surgery or hospital for our leaflet ‘Feedback and complaints: how to have a say about your care and have any concerns dealt with’.
Where to get more information
To find out more about anything in this section:
- ask a member of staff involved in your care
- phone the NHS inform Helpline on 0800 22 44 88
- ask your local citizens advice bureau (find your nearest bureau on the internet at www.cas.org.uk or in your local phone book).
To find out more about your rights you can contact:
- ENABLE Scotland
3 Renshaw Place
Lanarkshire ML1 4UF
Phone: 0141 226 4541
ENABLE Direct: 0300 0200 101 (this is a customer helpline for people who have learning disabilities, their carers and family members)
- People First (Scotland)
77-79 Easter Road
Phone: 0131 478 7707
- Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland
91 Haymarket Terrace
Phone: 0131 313 8777
Freephone number for service users and carers: 0800 389 6809
We have tried our best to make sure this leaflet is correct but the law is much more complicated than this. If you plan to take legal action, you should get an advocate, advice service or solicitor to help you.
You can get a longer version of this information which explains things covered here in more detail. You can also get it in other languages and formats.
Produced by NHS inform.
Produced February 2013
Revision date February 2016
Page last edited: 08 August 2013