Friends and relatives of terminally ill people are to be given new powers to make medical decisions after patients have lost the mental capacity to decide for themselves.
Draft legislation being drawn up by ministers will also help thousands of carers who have no legal right to help in the decision-making for those who are incapacitated because of stroke, dementia or other illness.
The power of attorney will allow people to clarify who has the right to be consulted about medical treatment if they become mentally incapacitated. But ministers say the legislation will “not pave the way for euthanasia through the back door”.
The Government does not agree with the Law Commission that living wills, advance directives allowing the terminally ill to set instructions on how they wish to be medically treated if they become mentally incapacitated, should be given statutory authority. Ministers want the status and influence of living wills to be determined on a case-by-case basis in the courts.