Mental Capacity Act (Northern Ireland) 2016

The Mental Capacity Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 has been broadly welcomed by the College, particularly its principles-based approach which emphasises respect for autonomy and non-discrimination.

There are two legal strands dealing with treatment without consent – common law and mental health law. Anyone with a physical disorder has a right to refuse unless they lack decision-making capacity - in which case a best interests principle applies. Those with a mental disorder can be treated against their wishes and this is a profound difference in the principles governing the treatment of physical and mental disorders.

However, we recognise that the Act will face challenges and have established a Working Group to help influence the Code of Practice using a scenario-based approach. This will enable the College to submit a robust and evidence-based response as the Code evolves.

We now have a dedicated page for the MCA which will serve as a local resource. Please send us your contributions. Responses will feature on the RCPsych members' section of the site in a private area where you will also have access to the Draft Code as it progresses.

For further details, email

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