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Right to Die Scheme May Lead to Conflict


Manchester, UK

Salford Council has caused controversy by introducing ‘a right to die scheme’ under the provisions of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The scheme says Emma Holt, a Partner and Head of Clinical Negligence at Manchester law firm, Pannone LLP, could lead to conflict regarding its interpretation.

The scheme is the first of its kind in the UK and is designed to allow people to make an informed decision about the treatment they would like to receive in the future. The scheme requires people to complete an ‘Advanced Decision to Refuse Treatment’ card, currently available at Swinton Library, which will instruct doctors not to treat them should they lose the capacity to make decisions.

On finding a card upon a patient who has lost capacity due to accident or illness, doctors must then contact the patient’s GP or a loved one for more information about the patient’s specific wishes.

Step closer to euthanasia?
Opponents of the scheme, such as the Pro-Life Alliance, consider this to be a step closer to euthanasia, giving people the right to die, while supporters view the scheme as promoting individual rights by giving people as much control over their future as possible.

Emma Holt, Head of the Clinical Negligence Department at Pannone LLP, offers some advice to those considering using the scheme: “The decision to refuse treatment is extremely important as it ultimately amounts to decisions about life and death, which clearly provokes strong emotions. There is therefore a potential for a dispute arising between families and medical professionals on the interpretation of any advanced refusal of medical treatment. Where such a dispute arises it may need to be resolved by the Courts.

“The difficulty is that a person cannot predict all the possible situations which may lead to him or her losing capacity to make decisions, and therefore when a person does lose capacity there is a recipe for conflict, particularly when it is as a result of an unexpected event such as a road traffic accident”.

Pannone LLP has acted for many individuals regarding issues of consent and refusal of medical treatment. If you or a member of your family have any concerns they should contact a Clinical Negligence Solicitor at Pannone on 0800 0382 382.

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