BMA guidance

Mental Capacity Act England and Wales

This toolkit acts as a guide to doctors in England and Wales when they are providing care and treatment for people who lack, or who may lack, the mental capacity to make decisions on their own behalf.

Location: England Wales
Audience: All doctors
Updated: Monday 18 March 2024
Topics: Ethics
Justice scales article illustration

What you'll get from this toolkit

  • Practical guidance on how to assess capacity and the basic principles in the Mental Capacity Act 2005
  • Information on assessing best interests, dispute resolution, use of restraint and deprivation of liberty
  • Guidance on the use of advance decisions to refuse treatment (ADRT) and Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs)
  • Links to other relevant guidance and resources from the BMA and other bodies such as the Department of Health and Social Care and the Office of the Public Guardian.

You may also be interested to see our core ethics guidance


How to use this guide

The purpose of this toolkit is not to provide definitive answers for every situation but to identify the key factors that need to be considered when decisions are made; to summarise the relevant legal considerations; and to signpost other key professional guidance. It is not a set of rules or instructions, or a substitute for careful reflection and discussion with colleagues.

  • Capacity and incapacity
  • Basic principles
  • Assessing capacity
  • Best interests
  • Supported decision making
  • Lasting powers of attorney
  • Court of Protection and court appointed deputies
  • Independent mental capacity advocates
  • Advance decisions to refuse treatment
  • Treatment in emergencies
  • Treatments requiring special safeguards
  • Restraint and restrictive measures
  • Care and treatment amounting to deprivation of liberty
  • Research
  • Relationship with the Mental Health Act
  • Dispute resolution
  • Confidentiality and information sharing