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Consent for medical students to be present during consultations with GPs

The Undergraduate GP Teaching Unit in the Department of Primary Care & Public Health at Imperial College London has been discussing the issue of patient consent in consultations where medical students are present. This has come about as a recommendation from the CQC to have written consent for an observer to be present in the consultation. All Imperial College GP teachers are sent our approved consent documents at the start of a GP student placement. This includes a poster for the waiting room, a patient information leaflet and a patient consent form.

We have liaised with other medical schools in thinking about how to approach the issue of consent. The majority view is that written consent on every patient would be unnecessary and cumbersome in terms of paperwork. We do though have consent forms if you wish to use these for now and if the CQC does insist that they become a mandatory requirement when medical students are present during a consultation.

The minimum requirements that we would expect in informing patients are:

  1. Practice leaflets and websites should include a section on medical student teaching and the purpose of their presence in consultations.
  2. A poster in the waiting room to explain that students may be present in the consultation.
  3. Information Leaflets available for patients to read prior to their appointment
  4. Patient consent should be sought verbally when patients are booking appointments with a student observer/consulter and when the GP calls the patient into the room.
  5. Patient consent forms to be filled out when any recording of the consultation takes place; it is optional in a normal consultation when a student is present.

If you have any issues or views about patient consent in student consultations then please contact us here at the department via Dr Aisha Newth, email a.newth@imperial.ac.uk.

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