Prevent Courts from Violating Patient Rights

Target: The Rt. Hn. Chris Grayling, MP, Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor

Goal: Ensure that people deemed mentally incapable have a voice in the judicial decisions effecting their lives

In the United Kingdom, people assessed as mentally incapable have many decisions made for them through the Court of Protection. The Court is intended to collaboratively pursue a patient’s best interests. Ideally, the Court should hear the testimony of the patient, their family, and mental health professionals to decide the best course of action.

However, a new report suggests that these patient and family voices are often ignored.  This constitutes a threat to patients’ rights and general welfare.

Prominent lawyers in the Court of Protection claim that many judges do not listen to the opinion of persons who are mentally incapable. At times, even the patient’s family is not given a chance to testify. When patients and their families are not able to provide their testimony, it is at best unlikely that judges will make the optimal decision for patient welfare.

It is simply unjust for any person to have zero participation in a decision which will seriously impact their life. Moreover, these actions are incompatible with the European Court of Human Rights. As a part of the human right to a fair trial, a person deemed mentally incapable should have the right to speak to a judge before a decision is made.

Many of the violations are not due to maliciousness: many judges merely misunderstand the Mental Capacity Act and what it means for them. Though the lawyers’ complaints are currently being considered by a House of Lords committee, it will be many months before any substantive action is taken. Therefore, the Ministry of Justice should endeavor to educate judges about the Act to prevent further patient rights’ violations.

Sign this petition to encourage the head of the Ministry of Justice, Chris Grayling, to direct his ministry to educate the judiciary.

PETITION LETTER:

To the Rt Hn Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor,

The human rights of people deemed mentally incapable are threatened by the lack of education judges receive. A report published by top lawyers working for the Court of Protection shows that judges often do not attempt to hear the testimony of patients or families. This violates the right to a fair trial and disregards the purpose of the Mental Capacity Act.

However, much of the inaction is rooted in judges’ lack of training concerning the Mental Capacity Act. Though the House of Lords is reviewing the lawyers’ complaints, human rights will continue to be violated without immediate action. Therefore, I urge you to utilize Ministry of Justice resources to inform and train the judiciary.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: The Lud via Wikimedia Commons

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Signatures

  • James McElwee
  • Thea Nichol
  • Dr Lofthouse
  • Igor Kryan
  • Ginger Hill
  • Lisa Seitz
  • Martin Gem
  • Prudence Brooks
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