Capacity to give informed consent

What do we mean by capacity to give informed consent?

Doctors seeking your informed consent to treatment such as ECT must presume that you have capacity to consent to ECT unless they can show that you don’t have capacity.

A person has capacity to give informed consent if they:

  • understand the information they are given relevant to the decision they are making
  • are able to remember the information that is relevant to the decision
  • are able to use or weigh information that is relevant to the decision, and
  • are able to communicate your decision by speech, gestures or any other means.

The Mental Health Act 2018 also sets out guiding principles about capacity. For example, a decision that could be considered unwise is not evidence that a person does not have capacity.