Patient consent guidance for the Recorded Consultation Assessment

12 June 2020

We have heard from a number of you who have questions and concerns around patient consent for the Recorded Consultation Assessment. Today, we have also received further information from our data protection officer on the methods of consent which would be acceptable. As a result, I am writing to you to share an update and provide some clarity on the guidelines and requirements on how to gain patient consent when recording consultations for the new exam.
The key point to note is that there needs to be clear evidence of patient consent, either as part of the recording which is uploaded, or as separate evidence uploaded with the recording.
We have updated our RCA guidance on consent on our website, and below you will find answers to some key questions that we know many of you have.

1. What consent do I need from patients for recordings I upload?

You either need verbal consent from the patient at the start of the recording, or you need to upload evidence that consent has been obtained, such as a consent form that has been signed by the patient. A sample form is included within the guidance which is available on the RCA webpage.

2. Can I get consent from the patient via a text message?

Yes. If the call was not initiated on the FourteenFish platform then you need to submit separate evidence of consent with the recording, unless they consented verbally, and this is audible in the recording. This can be done using a text message with details and links to further guidance along with the response from the patient confirming their consent. Example wording to use if gaining consent via text message is included in the guidance.

3. Can someone else sign the form on the patient’s behalf?

The form needs to be signed by the patient, or their legal guardian. You cannot have a member of staff ask for consent from the patient over the phone and then sign the form on their behalf.

4. Has the RCGP guidance on this changed?

No. We have always made it clear that you need to be able to evidence consent. However, we released a document describing various ways of obtaining consent for recording, but after further review by the data protection officer it was deemed that some of these methods needed to be clarified. The guidance page has been updated to reflect the position outlined above.

5. Can I get retrospective consent from a patient?

Yes. You could do this via text or send the consent form and ask them to sign and return it providing you already have evidence of consent prior to or at the beginning of the recording.

6. Do I have to use the official RCGP form?

No. You can use another form provided that it makes clear to the patient how their recording will be used and that they have the right to change their mind at a later date.

7. Do I need verbal consent or a signed form for recordings made on FourteenFish?

No. If you are using the FourteenFish platform to initiate the call with the patient, then consent is obtained and documented automatically by the system.
I hope this helps you with gaining consent from patients for your recorded consultations. If you have any concerns, please do speak to your trainer or contact the College exams team.


Post written by

Dr Michael Mulholland, Vice Chair (Professional Development)

Michael Mulholland is a GP at Unity Health, a five-site practice for 22,000 patients across the Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire border where he has practised for nearly 20 years.

He also works for Health Education England with roles in GP training, quality improvement and workforce planning. At the RCGP, he has been part of the GP at scale programme and a GP Forward View Regional Ambassador.

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