This week saw the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) launch the OPG Register for NHS, a search facility for the NHS to apply for a search of their register for people who are in hospital with coronavirus.
The OPG holds an official register of registered lasting or enduring powers of attorney, or who has a deputy acting for them. This register can be searched to find the contact details of those involved.
Coronavirus urgent OPG searches
Since the coronavirus outbreak, there have been many urgent requests to search the database for people who have lost mental capacity.
This search facility will allow the NHS to know if there is an appointed Attorney to make decisions for a person, who is in hospital, and for the NHS to know who the decision-maker is, in making possibly life or death decisions.
Which types of LPA do I need?
There are two types of LPAs financial and Health and welfare. Most people generally are aware that there is a financial document, but more now than ever a Health and Welfare document has become significantly important in these difficult times.
Karon Walton, Head of Court of Protection said: “My advice to clients would always be to consider creating both documents; however, in my opinion, I believe that the health and welfare LPA is much more the important one to do. It is much more difficult to obtain a Health and Welfare order or direction later from the Court of Protection.”
What happens if I don’t have an LPA in place?
If you haven’t put in place a Health and Welfare LPA, then it will be for the doctors or carers to make decisions on your behalf. Decision made for you would generally be made under Section 5 of The Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) which covers care or treatment; and that the decision is made in your best interests if you lack the capacity to make your own decision and then to carry out the care or treatment if appropriate to do so.
If the matter is more complex or there is some disagreement as to care and treatment, then your family’s only option is to apply to the Court of Protection for determination of your care or treatment or to seek the NHS Trust to apply.
The complexities around the application can put families off from making applications, so it is vital you consider your health and welfare wishes, get them down in an LPA, appoint an attorney or attorneys, and make sure that it is lodged with medical and social care organisations.