'Living will' plan to empower sufferers

Last updated at 13:49 22 April 2004

The Government announced plans today to reform the system of "living wills".

Vulnerable people could be given the power to veto specific medical treatments if their condition deteriorates in the future.

The plans are expected to have an enormous impact on Alzheimer's sufferers, schizophrenics and people with learning difficulties, accounting for millions of people across the UK.

Constitutional affairs minister Lord Filkin announced the proposals today to give vulnerable people facing the inability to make their own decisions through disability or dementia control of their own futures.

Decision making

"The Mental Incapacity Bill puts the individual at the heart of decision making, Lord Filkin said.

"Advance decisions are just one aspect of a Bill that will empower vulnerable people to make as many decisions for themselves as possible.

"When faced with a degenerative condition like Alzheimer's, this can provide some reassurance and a sense of empowerment in the face of difficult and distressing circumstances."

The Government stressed that the new Bill would not change the law on euthanasia and it would remain unlawful to take a person's life.

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now