Since the rise of COVID-19 in the UK, many consultations between surgeons and patients take place remotely, via phone or video. These consultations include pre-operative assessments, discussions between surgeons and patients about the benefits and risks of their surgery, and gaining the patient’s consent to proceed with treatment.
This transition to remote consultations has been central in the healthcare system’s effort to prevent transmission of COVID-19, and has required a series of adjustments by patients, hospitals and members of the surgical team. However, when it comes to the consent process, the same principles and requirements should apply as set out by the GMC and The Royal College of Surgeons of England, regardless of whether the conversation takes place face-to-face or via phone or video. In addition, during the COVID-19 period, the consent discussion should include further considerations to ensure that patients have the necessary information to make an informed decision about their treatment.
This guide sets out the main principles of the consent process and provides advice on what additional information should be included in conversations with patients while COVID-19 is still prevalent in society.