Government set to review 'living will' legislation

THE GOVERNMENT is to review the law surrounding the status of 'living wills', under an initiative announced by the Lord Chancellor last week.

The Lord Chancellor's Department will lead an intergovernmental working group which will include the Department of Health, Department of Social Security, Home Office, Treasury and Welsh Office.

The British Medical Association, which is conducting its own review on the subject, welcomed the Lord Chancellor's decision.

A spokeswoman says: “Our members are placed in tricky ethical and legal positions in this area and need clear guidance.”

The initiative has been prompted by the publication on 1 March of a Law Commission report on the problems surrounding mental incapacity.

The report has called for legislation to clarify the status of advance directives on health care decisions taken by patients, which are designed to take effect if the patient later loses the capacity to make a decision on further medical treatment.

The Government intends to produce a report by 1 September.

Responding to a question put in the House of Lords last week, Lord Chancellor Lord Mackay said: “The Government welcomes the Law Commission report on mental incapacity and intends to give it its full consideration.”