Children, medicine and law
Child protection is covered in Section IV of the Children Act. In medical intervention, adult with parental responsibility is allowed to give proxy consent on behalf of a child. The purposes of medical treatment, children over the age of 16 can give consent which cannot be overridden by their parents. All medical treatment requires informed consent from the patient. Whilst it is in the parents' power to refuse treatment on behalf of their children, it is important to realise that their duty, in the eyes of the law, is to consider the best interests of their child. If a child is between 12 and 16 years old and 'Gillick competent' they may consent to treatment for themselves. There are no hard and fast rules as to how to judge 'Gillick competence', although it has been posited that it is highly unlikely that any child under the age of 12 has sufficient maturity to be considered capable of giving valid consent.