It is a general principle of law that people have a right to consent or refuse treatment. The courts recognise that adults have the right to say in advance that they want to refuse treatment if they lose capacity in the future - even if this results in their death.
The Mental Capacity Act (2005) sections 24 to 26 set out when a person can make a decision to refuse treatment. This applies if:
Healthcare professionals must follow an advance decision is it is valid and applies to the current circumstances the person is involved in. However, there must be proof that the decision:
It is up to the individual to decide if they want to refuse treatment in advance. Some people make advance decisions even though there is no prospect of illness at that time. This might be because they wish to retain control over what happens to them when they lose capacity to make decisions about their health and are no longer able to communicate their wishes. Some people may want to make an advance decision when they are thinking of making a will, some may consider it if they are diagnosed with a condition or specific disease.
Other people may prefer not to make an advance decision and leave health professionals to make decisions in their best interests at the time the decision needs to be made. Another option is to make a Lasting Power of Attorney so that a trusted family member or friend could make decisions.
Please remember that:
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