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How does my doctor know if I have a health and welfare lasting power of attorney?

This is one of the questions that we are often asked by clients when taking instructions to complete a health and welfare lasting power of attorney.

In an ideal world this would be an easy answer! We always advise our clients to lodge a copy of their health and welfare lasting power of attorney with their GP. It would be lovely if there was then a computer system which crossed the whole NHS that allowed hospital teams to view the documents registered on GP notes about a patient. However, this is not the case and there is no magic computer system. So, instead, we tell our clients to keep a copy of the health and welfare lasting power at home so it can be grabbed and taken to hospital if there is an emergency or put in a bag if there is a routine admission. This is in addition to making sure that anyone dealing with health and welfare matters for an individual has a copy of the lasting power of attorney lodged with them. In addition to the GP this could be a dentist, optician, chiropodist, social services and the list goes on!

Medical professionals do also have access to the register of the Office of the Public Guardian which lists all who have made a lasting or enduring power of attorney or have a deputy appointed for them. If they make a request for information the OPG will provide this to them within five days. There is a specific procedure which the OPG has put in place to allow the NHS and social services to quickly deal with requests relating to patients with Covid 19. If a Covi19 request is made the medical practitioner should receive a response within 24 hours.

The practitioner should receive the following details:-

  • what type of LPA there is

  • when it was registered

  • contact details for the attorneys/deputies

  • how the attorneys/deputies are appointed to act

  • any restrictions or conditions included on the LPA or court order

  • if permission has been given for the attorney to make life sustaining treatment decisions

  • whether the documents are still in force

  • whether there is an expiration date on the court order

You may need to provide practitioners with a certified copy. This will need to be certified by someone approved by the Office of the Public Guardian and a charge is usually payable for certification. You can however obtain certified copies directly from the Court or, if you are one of the lucky few to have been provided with a key number for your LPA you can access the OPG portal system online where all information is held electronically.

If you need any help in lodging or certifying your LPAs please let us know as we can assist further.


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