I live in Scotland, can I make an Advance Decision or an Advance Statement?

In Scotland, Advance Decisions are known as Advance Directives. There is no law governing Advance Directives in Scotland that is equivalent to the Mental Capacity Act.  This means that there is not the same legal framework for deciding if an Advance Directive is valid and applies to the situation.  However, it is very likely that a court would find that an Advance Directive that was clear and specific to the situation would have the same effect as an Advance Decision in England.

In Scotland the law that says how decisions are to be made in relation to people who lack capacity is called the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000. This Act says that if an adult lacks capacity to make a decision and needs medical treatment, the person’s past and present wishes should be taken into account when the decision whether to consent to that treatment is made on their behalf.

Also, one of the principles of the General Medical Council’s guidance on end-of-life care is that if someone lacks capacity to make a decision for themselves and needs medical treatment, the wishes of that person should be taken into consideration when making a decision on their behalf.

So, although Advance Directives do not have the same formal status in Scotland as Advance Decisions do in England and Wales, healthcare professionals should take one into account when deciding how to treat you because it is evidence of your past wishes. Family and friends can also use them as evidence of your wishes.

An Advance Statement is also evidence of your wishes and feelings so should be taken into account by healthcare professionals when deciding how to treat you.

For more information, see our factsheet: 

Advance Directives (Living Wills) - Scotland

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