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Leading campaign group launches advance decision toolkit (15 April 2008)

15 April 2008

Leading campaign group launches advance decision toolkit

Toolkit will give appropriate professional guidance on the refusal of life-sustaining treatment

Dignity in Dying, the UK’s leading organisation campaigning for greater patient choice at the end of life, has today launched a comprehensive advance decision toolkit.

The Toolkit, which was commissioned by the Department of Health, will inform healthcare professionals of the issues surrounding the decision to refuse life-sustaining treatment, as stated in an advance decision.

The Department of Health invested in the development of the Toolkit when the refusal of treatment section of advance decisions became legally binding after under the 2005 Mental Capacity Act.

Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying, said:

“It is highly important that health professionals have a clear understanding of advance decisions if they are to work to the maximum benefit of the patient.

“Since the Mental Capacity Act came into force, many people are choosing to make advance decisions to maintain more control over their health.”

The Toolkit covers areas such as the recent change of law and its practical implications, good practice and caring for patients with advance decisions.

Wootton continued, “Health professionals have an important role to play in educating the public of the benefits of making an advance decision.”

The Toolkit is available for all health professionals to download from:


Notes to editor:

The provisions of the Mental Capacity Act around advance decisions to refuse life-sustaining treatment came into force in October 2007. Failure to comply with a valid and applicable advance decision could lead to a claim for damages for battery or a criminal charge of assault.

About Dignity in Dying

We support:

– Patient choice at the end of life
– Improvements in palliative care in all settings
– A dignified death for all

Dignity in Dying is also the UK’s leading provider of advance decisions (otherwise known as living wills). Dignity in Dying’s pro-choice Advance Decision allows people to specify any medical treatment they would like to be made on their behalf should they lose capacity. However, this toolkit will concentrate only on advance decisions to refuse life-sustaining treatment.

Dignity in Dying distributes thousands of its pro-choice Advance Decisions every year to members of the public who are keen to maintain as much control as possible over their future healthcare decisions. General practitioners, hospitals, care homes and lawyers regularly ask us to provide them with large numbers of these documents, and advise them on best practice. We have over 70 years experience of dealing with end-of-life care issues including expertise on drawing up and implementation of advance decisions.