The concept of mental capacity


The primary purpose of the MCA 2005 is decision making and importantly, deciding whether someone has or lacks capacity to make their own decision. For those who do not have capacity to decide for themselves, the Act supplies a framework for making decisions for that person, based on whether the proposed action will be in the person’s best interest or not. This might include decisions in relation to medical treatment.

Usually, care and treatment are offered to an individual and consented to. Adults with capacity in England and Wales have the absolute right to refuse. For those without capacity to consent the MCA 2005 can be used by professionals to intervene, provided they take steps to establish that the individual concerned lacks capacity and believe that any intervention they are making is in the person’s best interests. In these circumstances section 5 of the Act allows them to provide the care and treatment although if there is doubt or conflict then the Court of Protection must be involved.