Delay for ‘consent to treatment’ bill

A bill intended to provide protection for
people with a mental disorder who are unable to consent to being
treated in hospital has been delayed because of an objection by a
government whip.

provisions of the Patients Without Legal Capacity (Safeguards) Bill
extend to those with learning difficulties or Alzheimer’s

gap in the law has become known as the Bournewood Gap following the
case of Mr L, who had severe learning difficulties and was
informally detained in hospital by Bournewood Community and mental
Health NHS Trust for four months following an incident at a day
centre. His case is to be heard by the European Court of Human

bill could now get a second reading on 10 May. In the interim,
Labour MP for Peterborough Helen Clark, who proposed the bill, has
asked for a meeting with health minister John Hutton.

Meanwhile, the Lord Chancellor’s
department published a consultation paper last week seeking
comments on a pack of guidance leaflets for adults who need support
when making decisions due to mental incapacity, and for those who
care for them.

six leaflets offer advice and point readers to sources of further
information on a range of topics including financial
decision-making, access to legal advice and giving consent to
medical treatment. The guidance will set out the current law with
regard to decision-making on behalf of mentally incapacitated

Making decisions: helping people who have difficulty deciding
for themselves
, from – consultation
ends 9 July.


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