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Ethic briefings
  1. Veronica English,
  2. Danielle Hamm,
  3. Caroline Harrison,
  4. Julian Sheather,
  5. Ann Sommerville,
  6. BMA Ethics Department

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    Timetable for the implementation of the Mental Capacity Act 2005

    In December 2006, the government announced that it would phase in the introduction of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 for England and Wales. The independent mental capacity advocates (IMCA), who will support serious decision making for “unbefriended” incapacitated adults, and some directly related elements of the legislation to support them, will be introduced in England in April 2007, as will the Act’s code of practice. The criminal offence of ill treatment and wilful neglect will also be introduced at this time. At the time of writing, the Welsh Assembly’s Minister for Health and Social Services had yet to fix the date of commencement of the IMCA service in Wales.

    From October 2007, the remainder of the legislation, including the new Court of Protection, the Public Guardian and the Office of the Public Guardian is due to become operational for England and Wales. The government believes that this is required to ensure adequate time to train the civil servants and professionals affected by the Act. Lasting powers of attorney are also due to begin operating from this time.

    The British Medical Association’s (BMA’s) Ethics department is due to publish guidance on the Mental Capacity Act in April 2007. The guidance is available at


    In December 2006, the UK government published a white paper: Review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, setting out its proposals for revised legislation on human reproductive technologies.1 Two aspects of the government’s proposals have proved controversial. The first is the proposal to merge the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) with the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) to form a single regulatory body, the Regulatory Authority for Tissue and Embryos (RATE) covering the whole of reproductive technology, pathology, anatomy, transplantation and the use and storage of tissue. This proposal was first announced in July …

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