BSG Guideline for obtaining valid consent for gastrointestinal endoscopy procedures

February 2023 update


In 2016, the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG) published comprehensive guidelines for obtaining consent for endoscopic procedures. In November 2020, the General Medical Council (GMC) introduced updated guidelines on shared decision making and consent. These guidelines followed the Montgomery ruling in 2015, which changed the legal doctrine determining what information should be given to a patient before a medical intervention. The GMC guidance and Montgomery ruling expand on the role of shared decision making between the clinician and patient, explicitly highlighting the importance of understanding the values of the patient. In November 2021, the BSG President’s Bulletin highlighted the 2020 GMC guidance and the need to incorporate patient -related factors into decision making. Here, we make formal recommendations in support of this communication, and update the 2016 BSG endoscopy consent guidelines. The BSG guideline refers to the Montgomery legislation, but this document expands on the findings and gives proposals for how to incorporate it into the consent process. The document is to accompany, not replace the recent GMC and BSG guidelines. The recommendations are made in the understanding that there is not a single solution to the consent process, but that medical practitioners and services must work together to ensure that the principles and recommendations laid out below are deliverable at a local level. The 2020 GMC and 2016 BSG guidance had patient representatives involved throughout the process. Further patient involvement was not sought here as this update is to give practical advice on how to incorporate these guidelines into clinical practice and the consent process. This document should be read by endoscopists and referrers from primary and secondary care.

2016 update


Much has changed since the last guideline of 2008, both in endoscopy and in the practice of obtaining informed consent, and it is vital that all endoscopists who are responsible for performing invasive and increasingly risky procedures are aware of the requirements for obtaining valid consent. This guideline is restricted to GI endoscopy but we cover elective and acute or emergency procedures. Few clinical trials have been carried out in relation to informed consent but most areas are informed by guidance from the General Medical Counsel (GMC) and/or are enshrined in legislation. Following an iterative voting process a series of recommendations have been drawn up that cover the majority of situations that will be encountered by endoscopists. This is not exhaustive and where doubt exists we have described where legal advice is likely to be required. This document relates to the law and endoscopy practice in the UK — where there is variation between the four devolved countries this is pointed out and endoscopists must be aware of the law where they practice. The recommendations are divided into consent for patients with and without capacity and we provide sections on provision of information and the consent process for patients in a variety of situations. This guideline is intended for use by all practitioners who request or perform GI endoscopy, or are involved in the pathway of such patients. If followed, we hope this document will enhance the experience of patients attending for endoscopy in UK units.

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