Mental Health Act 1983
The Mental Health Act 1983 primarily deals with the detention in hospital of people with mental disorders, as well as other compulsory measures including guardianship and supervised community treatment. It sets out the criteria that must be met before compulsory measures can be taken, along with protections and safeguards for patients.
Mental Capacity Act 2005
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 for England and Wales provides a framework to empower and protect people who may lack capacity to make some decisions for themselves.
It makes it clear who can take decisions in which situations, and how they should go about this. It also allows people to plan ahead for a time when they may lack capacity.
It will cover major decisions about someone's property and affairs, healthcare treatment and where the person lives, as well as everyday decisions about personal care (such as what the person eats), where the person lacks capacity to make those decisions themselves.
Key Principles of the Mental Capacity Act
There are five key principles in the Act:
Every adult has the right to make his or her own decisions and must be assumed to have capacity to make them unless it is proved otherwise.
A person must be given all practicable help before anyone treats them as not being able to make their own decisions.
Just because an individual makes what might be seen as an unwise decision, they should not be treated as lacking capacity to make that decision.
Anything done or any decision made on behalf of a person who lacks capacity must be done in their best interests.
Anything done for or on behalf of a person who lacks capacity should be the least restrictive of their basic rights and freedoms.
Download consent to treatment - information for adult patients: