Gaps in law plugged for “mentally incapacitated”

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 04 March 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:549

A far reaching package of reforms to plug gaps in the law dealing with people who are mentally incapacitated was recommended by the Law Commission this week. The proposals, which cover England and Wales, include a new right for people to appoint friends or relatives to take medical decisions for them if they become incapacitated. Courts would also be able to take decisions on behalf of those who are mentally incompetent. At present the court can make a declaration—as in the case of the Hillsborough disaster victim Tony Bland—only that a course of action proposed by doctors would be lawful.

Judges would have a new power to appoint a manager to take future decisions. This could be a family member, a social worker, or both, appointed jointly, or any individual that the court considers appropriate. A new court of protection, made up of judges, would be set up to make decisions or resolve disputes about the finances and health …

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