Shared Decision Making - be involved in your care

Shared Decision Making - be involved in your care

What is Shared Decision Making

The importance of shared decision making

The NHS Universal Personalised Care Plan explains that shared decision making (SDM) allows people to be supported to understand both the care, treatment and support options available and the risks, benefits and consequences of those options; and to be able to make a decision about a preferred course of action, based on evidence-based, good quality information and their personal preferences[1]. Simply put, the Patients Association explains SDM is about patient’s having the right to be involved in making choices about their medical treatment[2].

Indeed, SDM has been a central tenet in health and care services in England for several years. The Montgomery Supreme Court ruling of 2015, which centred around informed consent, was a key moment in UK law that emphasised the need for health system reform to prioritise effective SDM.  Since then, several policies and plans have been established that recognise the importance of patient choice and preference, with clear targets to embed SDM into practice.

This includes the 2019 NHS England (NHSE) Long Term Plan which highlighted the importance of SDM in its ambition to make personalised care ‘business as usual’[3]. The most recent General Medical Council (GMC) guidance[4] also echoes this ambition and lists several principles for SDM, including the right of a patient to be involved in decisions about treatment and care as well as being supported to make informed decisions. 

“There needs to be a way we can look at ‘what matters to the patient as an individual. That’s what SDM is for” – Patient organisation

Since March this year, COVID-19 has changed the world and health services significantly.  NHS England has demonstrated great agility, moving rapidly to an emergency footing and adapting services to respond to the crisis.  Unfortunately, this has also meant many patients have had their routine care significantly disrupted. 

[1] Universal Personalised Care. NHS England. 2019. p7. [Last accessed January 2021]

[2] Shared Decision Making. The Patient’s Association, . [Last accessed January 2021]

[3] The NHS Long Term Plan. NHS England. 2019. [Last accessed January 2021]

[4] Decision Making and Consent. The General Medical Council. [Last accessed January 2021]

To be completed

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