The House of Lords committee established to scrutinise how the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) is working in practice outlined in its report published today (13 March 2014) that due to poor implementation it was failing the vulnerable people that it was designed to protect.
Mencap’s health campaigning has highlighted how serious the consequences can be when the Act isn’t followed, for example, when proper ‘best interests’ decisions are not made, and people with a learning disability are denied the treatment they need because of misheld beliefs and a failure to involve families when making best interest decisions. Such as Anne, who had Down’s syndrome, a severe learning disability and no verbal communication. And who died of pneumonia in 2012. Anne’s family were not listened to when decisions were made about her treatment despite the MCA saying they should be.
Commenting on the announcement Beverly Dawkins, special advisor at Mencap, said:
We are pleased that the House of Lords have acknowledged that people with a learning disability are being failed by poor implementation of the MCA.
We welcome all the recommendations of the Committee, particularly to set up an independent body to drive forward implementation and the need to review and reform the Deprivation of Liberty safeguards, which are currently not fit for purpose.
Alongside work to ensure the law is embedded in practice, we want serious consideration given as to what sanctions should be applied, when there is failure to follow the law.
We are concerned that professional regulators are not taking failures to adhere to the MCA seriously enough. No single health care professional has been properly held to account for failing to adhere to the Mental Capacity Act – even though the consequences can, and have, been life threatening and even fatal. For real change to happen, professionals need to know that there will be serous repercussions for failures to carry out their legal duties.
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There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.
For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.