Consent to medical treatment for health professionals

From 1 July, 2014, changes to the Consent to Medical Treatment and Palliative Care Act 1995 came into effect. These changes specify a new term, Person Responsible to describe those people close to a patient who are able to make health care decisions on that patient’s behalf if they have impaired decision-making capacity and they do not have an Advance Care Directive, Substitute Decision Maker or relevant instruction. Information on assessing a person’s decision-making capacity (PDF 87KB) and information on essential contacts (PDF 115KB) have been developed. 

Legal hierarchy

The changes introduce a new legal hierarchy for who can consent to medical treatment and healthcare for a person with impaired decision making capacity. For a step-by-step guide of how to apply the hierarchy see the flowchart (PDF 90KB) for more information.

Understanding the changes

To assist health practitioners understand the changes to consent and the order in which consent can be given a Consent Act Fact Sheet (PDF 69KB) and frequently asked questions (PDF 1.11MB) have been developed for use.

It is recommended  that the Who can Consent? poster (PDF 275KB) is displayed above or near consent forms in all health services.

To assist staff to understand who has legal authority to give consent, a Consent to Medical Treatment and Healthcare flowchart (PDF 90KB) has been developed, including for emergency situations.


If there is a healthcare dispute which cannot be resolved locally staff can contact the Office of the Public Advocate's Dispute Resolution Service who can help resolve the issues. This is a 24/7 service for emergencies only.

Education and training

For education and training resources see the Consent Act education and training page.