Advance Decisions to refuse treatment were given statutory force under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, which made clear that people had the right to refuse treatment in advance of a loss of capacity using a valid and applicable Advance Decision. The man known as XB, whose case was heard yesterday, made his Advance Decision last November with the support of family and healthcare professionals. The Court of Protection (above) became involved after a care worker questioned his capacity to make these decisions.
The ruling made by Mrs Justice Theis to uphold XB’s Advance Decision is a welcome one – and indeed the only lawful decision she could make – given that XB’s Advance Decision was found to be valid and applicable to his situation.
Advance Decisions are crucial to ensuring a good death under the current law. We don’t currently have the right to request life-ending medication – assisted dying remains illegal in the UK, but we do have the right to refuse treatment, both at the time, and in advance in case of a loss of capacity.
Polling conducted by Compassion in Dying last year found a majority of the public have clear views about how they would and would not want to be treated at the end of their lives, but just 3% had made those wishes clear in an Advance Decision.
Mrs Justice Theis made it clear that Advance Decisions should be drawn up to be as clear as possible. Trying to ensure that your Advance Decision covers the treatments and circumstances you want it to can be daunting, but Compassion in Dying is on hand to support people in making Advance Decisions for free via our information line and online resources.
If you are one of those who has not made an Advance Decision but you know what treatment you would want to refuse, you can find support on how to make a free Advance Decision at www.compassionindying.org.uk or call Sue on 0800 999 2434 (Compassion in Dying’s free information line, open 11am to 3pm, Monday to Friday).