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Monday, 1 July, 2002, 01:32 GMT 02:32 UK
Online help with mental law
Depressed woman
The act helps to protect mentally ill people
Help is being made available online to explain a new law in Scotland which is aimed at protecting vulnerable adults with mental disorders.

The move coincides with the fifth part of the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 coming into force on 1 July.

The online information resource has been created by the Doctor Patient Partnership and is being launched with the British Medical Association.

About 100,000 adults in Scotland are affected by conditions such as dementia and learning difficulties and the act is intended to safeguard their medical and financial welfare.


The clarity that this act will bring is particularly welcome for such an important issue

Dr Simon Fradd
Doctor Patient Partnership

Adults with incapacity can be described as such if they are having difficulty in or are unable to act for themselves.

They may not be able to make, communicate, understand or remember decisions.

Dr Bill O'Neill, Scottish Secretary of the BMA, said: "We are pleased to see Scotland leading the way in the enactment of such ground-breaking legislation.

Surgery row

"For doctors, the new law brings welcome clarification to an area which has caused them difficulty over the years, by introducing a general authority for doctors and other health care staff to provide appropriate treatment for those adults who are incapable of consenting to treatment."

Dr Simon Fradd, chairman of the Doctor Patient Partnership, said: "The clarity that this act will bring is particularly welcome for such an important issue.

Depressed man
Some people are incapable of making decisions

"It offers protection for the patient when medical decisions have to be made by laying out a clear process."

The Adults with Incapacity Act ran into controversy last month when it emerged that patients could undergo brain surgery without their consent.

However, this provision was dropped after opposition from mental health organisations.

Psychosurgery is used to treat a small number of depressed patients when everything else has failed.

The executive said the operation would only be used for patients whose depression was so severe they could not decide what was in their best interests.

See also:

11 Jun 02 | Scotland
29 Mar 00 | Scotland
Links to more Scotland stories are at the foot of the page.


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