Dignity in Dying welcome the Ministry of Justice consultation on Lasting Powers of Attorney
On October 7th 2008 the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) published their first annual report following the creation of the OPG on 1st October 2007, which Dignity in Dying broadly welcomed.
Following the admission from the OPG that their practices have not been up to the standard that their customers should expect, we are encouraged that the Ministry of Justice will be producing recommendations for a revised LPA form, which is hoped will ensure a more straightforward application process.
We also welcome the proposed reduction in cost for registering an LPA. According to The Ministry of Justice?s consultation paper, the current LPA fee of £150 may be reduced to £120. This proposed reduction is positive; however, £120 is still a significant barrier to many people who would benefit from an LPA, but who don?t feel able to afford it.
The OPG, who primarily supply Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) documents at a cost of £150, admitted that their practices have not been of an acceptable standard.
Rosie Varley, Chair of the Public Guardian Board, commented that the first year has been:
?a year of significant disruption and delays caused by the combination of a surge in demand following the [mental capacity] Act and operational difficulties in introducing new processes. As a result, the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) has struggled to maintain its services at the level its customers have a right to expect.?
The report states:
?Feedback from several quarters, including in particular Solicitors for the Elderly, highlighted cases where delays in processing had prevented EPA/LPA donors from getting the care or facility they needed.?
(The first annual report of the Public Guardian Board, October 2008, P.11)
Further to these issues, concerns have been raised about a lack of interaction between the OPG and those on the frontline caring for the vulnerable.
Dignity in Dying appreciate that the number of LPA requests was higher than initially anticipated and hope that the Ministry of Justice Consultation will be a positive step forward in the improvement of the OPG?s practices for the future, ensuring that the vulnerable are protected.
Notes to editor:
About Dignity in Dying:
? Dignity in Dying is the leading organisation in the UK that advocates assisted dying for terminally ill patients, and is also the country?s leading provider in information on end-of-life issues.
? Dignity in Dying has over 100,000 supporters and receives its funding entirely from donations from the public.
? Opinion polls consistently show that at least 80% of the UK population support a change in the law on assisted dying.
? An interview with Ashley Riley is available to download at https://www.dignityindying.org.uk/aboutus/
About the MCA and OPG:
? The 2005 MCA was implemented in 2007.
? The Public Guardian was established in 2007 to ?ensure that those appointed to take decisions on behalf of those who lack capacity discharge their duties properly, without abuse, and act in the best interests of the person without capacity.? This service is administered by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), through ?supervising Deputies appointed by the Court of Protection?
(Ministry of Justice, Reviewing the Mental capacity Act: forms, supervision and fees, 23 October 2008, P.3).
? The OPG are responsible for processing legally binding, Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) documents. There are two documents, each covering either Property and Affairs or Personal Welfare.
? Personal Welfare LPAs allow a chosen Attorney(s) to make decisions about any, or all, personal welfare/healthcare matters for a person who has has lost mental capacity. The Attorney can, for example: Give or refuse ?consent to particular types of health care, including medical treatment decisions; or [can decide] whether you continue to live in your own home, perhaps with help and support from social services, or whether residential care would be more appropriate for you.
? Attorney(s) can also exert their power to make decisions about ‘life-sustaining treatment’. To do this, the person who has lost capacity must have ?expressly given [their] Attorney(s) the power to make such decisions? (ibid) by completing specific sections of the LPA form.
? Unless a person is eligible for remission, LPAs are available at a cost of £150, which is payable on making the application for registration. There is a separate charge of £150 for each LPA made ? Property and Affairs and/or Personal Welfare. Further to this cost, refunds cannot be guaranteed if the target time for registering the LPA is missed, or if the applicant, or person who has lost capacity, dies before the LPA is registered.
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