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Consent to student involvement in treatment – the legalities

journal contribution
posted on 2023-07-26, 13:14 authored by Karen Bartholomew, Claire Hooks
The NMC (2008) and UK law both make it clear that women have the right to decline student participation in their care and that this right overrides the student’s need to gain knowledge and experience. Helmreich et al (2008) suggests gaining consent from an individual shows respect for the individual’s right to make decisions about the things that affect them; it empowers the individual with the authority to decide whether to accept or decline any form of care. Lynoe et al’s (1998) study (although a little dated now, still reflects what is happening in clinical practice today), found that 41% of 582 study participants had received care from students without prior consent. Of this 41%, 88% felt aggrieved that their consent had not been obtained. While acknowledging that pregnant women will, mostly, be asked if student participation is acceptable, we question whether women are routinely informed of their right to decline student involvement and if the legal conditions of valid consent are being truly upheld and applied in practice. From experience and anecdotal evidence, it appears that for pregnant women receiving routine care the presence of the student is often presented as a ‘fait accompli’. This piece explores some of the legal concepts around consent as applied to student participation in care.



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Royal College of Midwives: Student Life e-newsletter


Royal College of Midwives


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ARCHIVED Faculty of Health, Social Care & Education (until September 2018)

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