Report (5th Day)

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 6th March 2012.

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Photo of Lord Walton of Detchant Lord Walton of Detchant Crossbench 5:30 pm, 6th March 2012

My Lords, I will briefly speak to Amendment 167 in this group, which has been tabled in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath. I understand entirely why he has tabled this amendment but, with respect, I do not believe that it is necessary.

All medical bodies, including the BMA and the General Medical Council and others, now agree that the days of doctor's orders are long past. The practice of medicine is a partnership in which it is up to the doctor to recommend to the patient what course of action is most appropriate in the patient's best interests; what it is appropriate to do in order to reach a diagnosis; what tests are appropriate in order to achieve that diagnosis; and what course of treatment would then be necessary. However, it is up to the patient to decide whether or not to accept that advice and it is not possible for a doctor to carry out a test without the informed consent of the patient.

It is also well agreed by these medical bodies that if a doctor has given full and detailed information to a patient about the course of action that is appropriate, and if the doctor recommends a particular course of treatment that he regards as being necessary in the patient's best interests, the patient may nevertheless have the right to refuse that advice even if refusal of that advice ends in the patient's death. For that reason, as all of these issues have been dealt with repeatedly in the advice given by the GMC, the BMA and other bodies, I do not believe that this amendment is necessary.