Published in The Daily Telegraph
17/12/04

“Loss of will”

“Sir ,

By putting end of life decision making powers into the hands of proxy decision makers (report. Dec15;Letters, Dec16 ) the only protection the incapacitated person has under the Mental Capacity Bill is that the decision made must be in their “best interests”. Unfortunately best interests is not defined in an objective way, and is not synonymous with their best health interests. Rather the Bill uses wishes or feelings whether expressed in writing or spoken at some time in the past as determinative.

The results can be anticipated, but health authorities will emerge claiming that the decision was not theirs.

As far as doctors are concerned, they will not be in a position to treat the patient in accordance with good medical practice if the proxy decision-maker does not agree with them. If they are uncomfortable about that their only recourse is a lengthy and possibly acrimonious court action.

The Bill shifts power to beneficiaries whilst claiming to give it to the incapacitated. The test is, what actually happens to a person who loses capacity, but asks for help with the necessities of life? How much medical assistance will acctally get when he is helpless? Under the Bill, a patient, or their proxy can only refuse treatment . The Bill is a one-way street to the grave.

Yours sincerely

The Medical Ethics Alliance