As a competent adult, you have a legal right to give or withhold consent to medical treatment. However, if you become mentally incapacitated or unconscious, treatment may be given or withheld without your consent provided medical staff are convinced it would be in your best interests.
Through an 'advance directive' (also known as a 'Living Will'), you retain your legal right to decline specific treatment, including life-prolonging treatment.
The Mental Capacity Act defines an advance directive as 'advance decisions to refuse treatment'. Provided the document is written and signed by someone who fulfils the criteria listed below, it has legal force. However, in some emergency situations people treating you may not be aware of your instructions.
An advance statement is when you specify what treatment or care you would like to be given if you no longer have the capacity to make your own decisions. This is not legally binding for health professionals but will help them to understand your preferences.
For your advance decision/statement to be valid, you must:
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