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National charities urge Lords to focus beyond living wills on wider Bill

Issue date: 10 January 2005

A coalition of some of the UK's leading charities today urged the House of Lords to look at the full range of measures planned in the Mental Capacity Bill, rather than being side-tracked by the debate around living wills.

The Making Decisions Alliance (MDA), which includes the Alzheimer's Society, Age Concern, Mencap and the National Autistic Society as members, has labelled fears that the Bill will legalise euthanasia as 'misplaced and misguided'. They argue that the Bill could have a massive impact on the day to day lives of two million people who have difficulty making or communicating decisions for themselves.

The Mental Capacity Bill will set out people's right to make their own decisions and there will be a presumption that people have the capacity to do so unless it is proved otherwise. The MDA believes this is vital for the millions of people who are currently, often wrongly, judged incapable of making decisions. It will also give those caring for these people more confidence in their rights to be consulted on the treatment and care that they receive.

The MDA has also called for Lords to give a greater role to professional advocates, who could help people to have a say in their own lives. Ideally they are independent, understand the abilities of the individual and are focused on that individual's needs and wishes.

Toby Williamson, co-chair of the MDA said: "Because of the amount of time given over to debating living wills in the commons there was no opportunity to look at some of the key issues in the Bill. It is vital that the House of Lords look in depth at the full Bill, particularly the role that advocates are given."

ENDS

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The information on this page was provided by members of the Making Decisions Alliance. It was last updated on11 January 2005.

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This website is run on behalf of the Making Decisions Alliance by the Mental Health Foundation / Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, 9th Floor, Sea Containers House, 20 Upper Ground, London SE1 9QB. Tel: +44 (0)20 7803 1100. Press office tel: +44 (0)20 7803 1281. Email: mhf@mhf.org.uk Website: www.mentalhealth.org.uk

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