Ethics committees now require that individuals give informed consent to much health services research, in the same way as for clinical research. This is misguided. Existing ethical guidelines do not help us decide how to seek consent in these cases, and have allowed managerial experimentation to remain largely unchecked. Inappropriate requirements for individual consent can institutionalise health inequalities and reduce access to services for vulnerable groups. This undermines the fundamental purpose of the National Health Service (NHS), and ignores our rights and duties as its members, explored here. Alternative forms of community consent should be actively pursued.
- Informed consent
- health services research
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