BMA guidance

Mental Capacity Act toolkit

This toolkit acts as a prompt to doctors 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: Wednesday 26 April 2023
Topics: Ethics
Justice scales article illustration

What you'll get from this guide

  • A 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.
  • Advance refusals of treatment and Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs).


How to use this guide

The tool kit is designed to raise doctors’ awareness of the Mental Capacity Act, and to provide an aid for good decision making.

It is not intended to provide definitive guidance on all the issues surrounding the Act. In cases of doubt, legal advice should be sought. 

This tool kit applies to England and Wales.

In Scotland, decision making in this area is covered by the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000.

In Northern Ireland, decision making is currently governed by the common law, although at the time of writing change was anticipated.


  • Guidance on the Mental Capacity Act
  • Basic principles of the Mental Capacity Act
  • Assessing capacity
  • Best interests according to the Mental Capacity Act
  • Acts in connection with care or treatment
  • Lack of capacity and restraint
  • Care and treatment amounting to deprivation of liberty
  • Advance decisions refusing treatment
  • Patients lacking capacity and research
  • Lasting powers of attorney
  • Court of Protection and court appointed deputies
  • Independent mental capacity advocates
  • Relationship with the Mental Health Act
  • Dispute resolution
  • Confidentiality and information sharing
  • Useful resources