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Mental Capacity Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:15 pm on 1st February 2005.

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Photo of Baroness Warnock Baroness Warnock Crossbench 3:15 pm, 1st February 2005

It seems to me that there is a great deal of point in this amendment, which places this proviso on the face of the Bill. Although I fully understand what the Minister said about the present situation, it is sometimes difficult to implement a change of care of the patient at the last minute unless it is absolutely clear to everybody, and is known to everybody, that this is what is required.

I have had many letters about this. One of them told the story of a woman who had made a very specific advance directive, which was that if she should contract pneumonia she should not be given antibiotics. She went into a nursing home and became mentally incapable, but she had made the advance decision. The person who ran the nursing home rang her daughter to say that antibiotics were to be started that evening. The nurse in charge had no conscientious objection, although the doctor did. It was very difficult to persuade the nurse, who felt that she had to carry out her instructions. In the end, the woman was not given antibiotics but it was very difficult. Having this proviso on the face of the Bill would make the situation clearer. I therefore support the amendment, or something like it.