60.Memorandum from James and Catherine
Reid (MIB 206)
We would like to make the following points as
regards the Draft Mental Incapacity Bill.
1. New Clausewe urge the committee
to add a new clause which outlaws the withdrawal of food and fluid
in order to cause death.
2. "Patient's best interests"this
requires a clearer and more precise definition. Chance remarks
overheard or the perception of someone's wants, wishes are too
vague. It would preserve the human dignity and rights of all concerned
if "objective medical criteria" could be written into
the Bill. These should includerestoring and maintaining
health of patient but where no cure is possible an insistence
on control of symptoms including pain.
3. Lasting Powers of attorneythe
right of patients to name proxies in the event of their becoming
mentally incapacitated should be included in the Bill. In this
way the reasonable will of the patient can be respected and family
members so named are able to represent the patient and enter into
dialogue with the medical staff.
4. Appeal systemto counterbalance
any person nominated as proxy who acts out of self interest rather
than in the best interest of the patient, doctors should be protected
by being able to appeal. Similarly families and patients would
be protected also.
5. Advance Directives "Living Wills"we
urge that the House of Lords Select Committee finding that advance
directives are helpful to doctors and carers in decision making
but warned against making them legally binding in Statute Law
be applied to this Bill. There is the danger that patients can
be depriving themselves of treatment discovered after they have
signed an advanced directive. We urge the Standing Committee to
NOT make Advanced Directives legally binding in Statute Law.