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Advance Decisions to Refuse Treatment

We all like to make our own decisions. But what happens if for some reason a person is not able to make a decision about their own medical treatment because of illness or because they are unconscious?

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) provides mechanisms which allow the person to authorise others to make decisions on their behalf, including Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA). The person can make an LPA which will deal with property and affairs and/or an LPA dealing with health and welfare matters. There is a legal process to follow and a fee to pay. We would strongly advise making an LPA as it is a very good way of ensuring that someone can act on the person’s behalf if they are not able to.

The MCA also allows the person, if they have capacity, to plan ahead for decisions about medical treatment, using a tool called an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment (ADRT). This will only come into force once the person lose capacity to make their own choices. This can then become a legally binding decision and clinical staff must take it into account. ‘Capacity’ means being able to make one’s own decisions. This leaflet will provide information about ADRTs and point towards further information.

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