Advocates’ role put into capacity bill

The government has bowed to pressure to introduce advocates to the
Mental Capacity Bill following campaigning by the Making Decisions

Department for Constitutional Affairs minister Cathy Ashton tabled
amendments in the House of Lords this week to replace the
independent consultee role with an advocate.

Under a new clause, advocates must take more account of an
individual’s wishes rather than act as an adviser to the decision

Zoe Ward, policy and campaigns officer at social care charity
Turning Point, said: “It is much, much clearer that the advocate is
supporting an individual.”

But she added the alliance still wanted to see advocates available
for a wider range of people. Under the bill, only those deemed
unbefriended – those without friends or family – are entitled to an

The alliance, which is made up of charities including Action on
Elder Abuse, Mind and the Foundation for People With Learning
Disabilities, has also welcomed an amendment that allows people who
lose capacity to state beforehand what treatment they would like to

Originally, advance statements would only have allowed people to
state which treatments they did not want if they lost

Toby Williamson, head of policy at the Mental Health Foundation,
said: “With these amendments the bill will make a dramatic change
for the better in the lives of millions of people currently

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