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Young Peoples Rights to Treatment.

England

Young people aged 16 or over but under 18 can give independent consent to their own treatment. It is not necessary to obtain the consent of a parent or guardian. A young person can be overruled by a court order.

However, if the young person is incapable of giving their own consent, for example, they are severely disabled, the parent’s or guardian’s consent must be obtained.

Children under 16 can give their own consent to treatment provided they are judged capable by a doctor, Primary Care Trust (PCT) or NHS Trust, of understanding what is involved. Fraser Guidelines are taken into account for those under 16.

If a child under 16 does not have sufficient understanding, parental consent (or a court order) will be required for any treatment, except in an emergency. If a child under 16 who does have sufficient understanding refuses treatment, treatment can still be given with their parent’s or guardian’s consent or by a court order.

Young people or children under 18 cannot give their own consent to experimental operations and blood donations, unless they have sufficient understanding of what is involved.

Right to refuse treatment

You can refuse any treatment if you wish (but see under heading Consent). When you visit a doctor, this usually implies consent to examination and treatment. The doctor cannot act against specific instructions, so you should tell the doctor about any treatment you do not want.

If there are a number of alternative treatments which can be used to treat your condition, you should be given information on these. However, you cannot insist on a particular treatment if the doctor or consultant thinks this is not appropriate.

Forcing treatment on you against your will is assault. If you are assaulted, you should contact your Primary Care Trust (PCT), NHS Trust or Patient Advisory Liaison Service (PALS) to make a complaint. You may also wish to involve the police.

For information on making a complaint in England, see NHS and local authority social services complaints