Making decisions about your care

  • The care and support you receive should take into account your needs and preferences.
  • You have the right to be involved in discussions, and make decisions about your treatment and care, together with your health or care professional.
  • Information explaining your treatment and care should be given in a way you understand.

Your health or care professional also needs information about you:

  • What matters to you?
  • What is most important for you?
  • What are you really worried about? 

Health and care professionals should support your choice wherever possible. They should recognise that each person is an individual, with their own needs, wishes and priorities. They should also treat everyone they care for with dignity, respect and sensitivity.

Giving consent

If someone is not able to understand a particular issue - or is not able to make decisions for themselves - health and care professionals should follow this advice from the Department of Health:

There’s more information about the Mental Capacity Act and consent from Carers Direct on NHS Choices. In Wales, healthcare professionals should follow advice on consent from the Welsh Government.

In an emergency: healthcare professionals may need to give treatment urgently, without getting informed consent, if this is in the best interests of the patient.

For children under 16: parents or carers need to agree to treatment, unless it is clear that the child fully understands the treatment and can give their own consent. In an emergency, if someone with parental responsibility cannot be contacted, healthcare professionals may need to give treatment straightaway, when it is in the child's best interests. Healthcare professionals should follow the Department of Health's guidelines on seeking consent: working with children.

Family and carers: should be given their own information and support. They should also have the chance to be involved in decisions about the person's care, if the person agrees.

Mental health

If you are being treated under some sections of the Mental Health Act health and care professionals may override your decisions:

  • only in specific circumstances
  • and if it is in your best interests.

If this does happen, they should explain the reasons why, and your rights to appeal and support.

Moving from children’s to adults’ services

Both children’s and adults’ teams should be working together during this move.  Your diagnosis and care should be reviewed during the process. You should always know who your main point of contact or your main doctor is. You can find more information in Transition: getting it right for young people from the Department of Health.

Guidance and advice for people using health and care services

Take a look at all of the guidance and advice we’ve produced to help to improve people’s experience of health and social care services.

Browse guidance and advice