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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

A Clinician’s Brief Guide to the Mental Capacity Act (2nd edn)

Nick Brindle, Tim Branton, Alison Stansfield and Tony Zigmond

Price: £18.00

College members' price: £16.20

Published: Jul 2015

Format: Paperback

Number of pages: 144

ISBN: 9781909726420

A Clinician’s Brief Guide to the Mental Capacity Act (2nd edn)

This easy-to-read book explains the nuts and bolts of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 that clinicians need to understand and use in their daily practice. This Act now gives all clinicians the authority to provide medical care and treatment for people over 16 years of age who lack the capacity to consent for themselves.


It covers:

  • How to assess whether a person lacks capacity and how to clarify the threshold of decision-making incapacity.
  • The range, scope and limitations of the various authorities to treat (including 'best interests’ decisions, advance decisions and lasting powers of attorney).
  • The range of safeguards in place (such as the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLs), the Court of Protection and Independent Mental Health Advocates).
  • Relevant aspects of the Human Rights Act 1998, the Mental Health Act (including all recent amendments) and illustrative case law.

There have been numerous developments in case law in the two years since the first edition. The second edition expands on clinically relevant issues from the courts, and assists in bridging the gap between court judgments and the frontline clinician.



  1. This book is aimed at all clinicians (in England and Wales) - especially those working with the elderly and those with intellectual disabilities (this includes GPs, nurses and the allied disciplines).
  2. It will also aid understanding for everyone who helps care for people who cannot make decisions for themselves (such as elderly relatives) or who wishes to make legal provision for their own future care.

About the editors:
Dr Nick Brindle – Old Age Consultant Psychiatrist, The Mount (Mental Health Centre), Leeds.
Dr Tim Branton - Old Age Consultant Psychiatrist, The Mount, Leeds and a former Associate Medical Director for Mental Health Legislation, Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
Dr Alison Stansfield – Consultant Psychiatrist, Aire Court Community Unit, Leeds and Associate Medical Director for Learning Disabilities and Clinical Lead for Leeds Autism Diagnostic Service Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
Dr Tony Zigmond - Consultant Psychiatrist and retired Senior Clinical Lecturer, University of Leeds.


Preface to the first edition

Preface to the second edition

Common abbreviations and terms


  1. The legal framework: the Mental Capacity Act, the Human Rights Act and common law
  2. The Mental Capacity Act and the authority to treat
  3. Assessment of capacity
  4. Best interests
  5. Alternative authority – planning for the future
  6. Independent Mental Capacity Advocates and regulation of research
  7. Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards
  8. The Court of Protection, clinically relevant judgments from the courts and writing reports
  9. The Mental Health Act



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The first edition was Highly Commended in the Health and Social Care Category of the BMA Medical Book Awards 2014

“Comprehensive in that it covers everything I would expect, but succinct and does not overburden the reader. ...An excellent example of a book that takes a difficult subject and makes it accessible to someone who has no prior knowledge of it. The authors should be commended for their skill in achieving this. This is a book that will be extremely useful in clinical situations, especially in the middle of the night when there is no-one to ask!"
 - 2014 BMA Medical Book Awards: Programme and Awards Winners


"I would recommend all GPs to have access to this book for a quick personal update when questions involving capacity arise."
GP Online (of first edition)

"Among the few academic books that would suit a psychiatrist at any stage in their training."
The Psychiatric Bulletin (of first edition)


You may also be interested in:

...Mental Health Act (3rd edn)A Clinician's Brief Guide to the Mental Health Act (3rd edn)


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mental health legislation