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Health laws need improvement

Published 25/04/2008

I am a senior doctor in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast and teach medical students at Queen's University, especially medical ethics.

I also sit on ethics committees at the Northern Ireland Hospice and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, the largest NHS Trust in the UK. I am concerned that Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK not to have leglislation on consent of patients to healthcare when they become confused or incompetent.

England and Wales have had the benefits of the Mental Health Act from October 2007.

This permits a proxy to make decisions for the person and gives legal authority to living wills or advanced directives.

Scotland has had similar leglislation since 2001. I have checked the Northern Ireland Assembly website and I can find no reference to debate in this area.



Belfast Telegraph

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