Working with the Mental Capacity Act
08 October 2007
From 1 October 2007 this Act is fully in force in England and Wales. It impacts on all doctors working with or caring for adults (16+) who lack mental capacity (or have impaired capacity) to make their own decisions about health, social care and financial matters.
The Act makes clear who has authority to make decisions in certain situations and sets out statutory principles which must guide decision-making.
Doctors have a legal duty to have regard to the Code of Practice in their day to day decisions about the treatment and care of incapacitated patients. So it is important that doctors take steps to familiarise themselves with the legal principles, and the provisions of the Code which are of most relevance to their areas of practice.
GMCtoday (Sept 2007) (pdf) provides useful information about web resources from the Department of Health, England and the Welsh Assembly.
Any current GMC guidance published before 2005 should be read in conjunction with the Code of Practice. This mainly affects our booklets on Research and Withholding and Withdrawing Life-Prolonging Treatments.
GMCtoday (May 2007) (pdf) and (July 2007) (pdf) provide more information about the implications of the Act for GMC guidance.
It should be noted that we are currently re-drafting the guidance on Consent to reflect the new legal framework and experience with related legislation in Scotland. A new edition is expected to be published early in 2008.