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Mordel v Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust. EWHC 2591 (QB). 2019. (accessed 8 October 2019)

Antenatal care for uncomplicated pregnancies.London: NICE; 2008

Obtaining and confirming consent

02 December 2019
Volume 27 · Issue 12


The question of how practitioners provide information and verify that a woman understands the issues and consents to a procedure was raised in the High Court. Andrew Symon reports on Mordel v Royal Berkshire NHS

A recent High Court case has highlighted for midwives the importance of obtaining and confirming valid consent. Mordel v Royal Berkshire NHS centred on what information had been provided and understood in relation to Down syndrome screening.

The mother (‘EM’), a 28-year-old primigravida originally from Poland, attended a booking appointment when she was about 11 weeks pregnant. The midwife documented that EM had agreed to a nuchal translucency (NT) scan, in addition to a dating scan and blood tests, but that she was ‘unsure’ about second phase invasive testing. The midwife provided EM with a Down syndrome screening booklet. A Polish language version was offered but EM indicated she was happy to receive the English version. The judge noted that while EM's grasp of English was good it was

‘Far from excellent, and there were occasional failures to understand what was being put to her by both counsel, particularly if the question or proposition had a degree of nuance or complexity’.

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