The importance of a Health and Welfare lasting power of attorney

The importance of a Health and Welfare lasting power of attorney

A recent Court of Protection ruling regarding treatment for a man suffering with 'mad cow disease' highlights why a Health and Welfare lasting power of attorney (LPA) is so important. 

On Monday 8 October 2018, the Court of Protection ruled that doctors are allowed to perform treatment on a man suffering from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). This is the first time treatment is to be undertaken on a human following a ruling by Mr Justice Cohen.

CJD, often referred  to as mad cow disease, is extremely rare in the UK, fatally affecting only one or two people per million a year. It can result in memory loss, changes in personality, vision problems and the progressive loss of brain function and mobility.

The man was suffering with a sporadic version of CJD, which is the most common type of the disease. University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust made a case for his treatment and the Court of Protection ruled in favour saying it was in the man’s ‘best interests that he should have the treatment’. The office of the Official Solicitor, who assist people lacking the mental capacity to make decisions, were also in favour.

The Court heard from the man’s solicitors that there was presently no treatment, but therapy had been developed at University College London. Previously, the therapy had been successfully tested on animals, therefore the man’s representatives said it will give its client ‘reasonable cause for hope’ even though there could be side effects.

This case highlights the importance of having in place a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). Having in place an LPA means the attorney(s) named can choose to make a health and welfare decision on behalf of the patient or leave it to the medical staff’s judgement when the patient has lost mental capacity. A registered LPA would therefore have meant there was no need for the Court of Protection to intervene. This could have been crucial in this scenario because an attorney may have received previous instructions which may be unknown to the medical staff.

For more information on how we can support you in making an LPA for health and welfare, please visit our Powers of Attorney services or contact us on 01622 690691.