Alasdair Maclean analyses the ethical basis for consent to medical treatment, providing both an extensive reconsideration of the ethical issues and a detailed examination of English law. Importantly, the analysis is given a context by situating consent at the centre of the healthcare professional-patient relationship. This allows the development of a relational model that balances the agency of the two parties with their obligations that arise from that relationship. That relational model is then used to critique the current legal regulation of consent. To conclude, Alasdair Maclean considers the future development of the law and contrasts the model of relational consent with Neil Manson and Onora O'Neill's recent proposal for a model of genuine consent.
Introduction; Part I: 1. Autonomy; 2. The relevance of beneficence, justice and virtue; 3. The healthcare professional-patient relationship: setting the context for consent; 4. The Concept of consent - what it is and what it isn't; Part II. Consent and the Law: 5. The legal regulation of consent; 6. Rationalising the law and ethics of consent; 7. Constructing consent - future regulation and the practice of healthcare; Summary and conclusion.