Is consent causing confusion for clinicians? A survey of child and adolescent Mental health professional’s confidence in using Parental Consent, Gillick Competence and the Mental Capacity Act

Is consent causing confusion for clinicians? A survey of child and adolescent Mental health professional’s confidence in using Parental Consent, Gillick Competence and the Mental Capacity Act
Research Article
Clare Fenton
Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 6 June 2020
Abstract
All professionals engaged in clinical work should be competent to assess consent for the interventions they provide. This study assesses CAMHS clinicians confidence and knowledge in the various forms of consent and the number of minors admitted to mental health units in England under parental consent alone.

An online questionnaire using vignettes of possible scenarios was sent to child and adolescent mental health practitioners in Tees Esk and Wear Valleys Trust. A freedom of information request was used to determine the number of young people admitted through parental consent.

Thirteen of the 20 trusts contacted had no knowledge of the number of young people admitted under parental consent. A total of 93 participants completed the survey. Out of six vignettes, there were two where the majority of responses were discordant with current legal advice. Both of these vignettes considered the use of parental consent for admission to a mental health unit.

This study provides further evidence to indicate that the current consent processes in CAMHS causes confusion for clinicians. There continues to be very few safeguards for children admitted under parental consent, with most trusts in England and Wales having no centralised knowledge of whether this is occurring and the numbers involved if it is.

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