This excellent book comes out at the right time. There are around 800,000 people with dementia in the UK, and the disease costs the economy £23bn a year. A quarter of hospital beds are occupied by people with dementia. By 2040, the number of people affected is expected to double - and the costs are likely to treble. The government wants to increase the rates of which in England are only 45%. The implementation of the Capacity Act has been recently been heavily criticised. The duties and rights in the legislation are not widely realised or followed. ‘The prevailing culture of paternalism (in health) and risk-aversion (in social care) have prevented the [Capacity] Act from becoming widely known or embedded.’ The DOLS safeguards are ‘sometimes used to oppress individuals, and to force upon the decisions made by others without reference to the wishes and feelings of the person concerned’.
Often the client carer is as vulnerable as the patient. They face a bewildering maze of different organisations offering conflicting guidance. The main need is for clear guidance and information. This area is vast and advisers need to have at their fingertips knowledge about a huge variety of factors that will impact on clients. There are many very useful books that cover different aspects of this area but this book contains an overview of them all and, more importantly, how they interact. This is one of the very few law books to focus on a specific medical condition and that demonstrates the growing importance of the topic.
The book is well set out and information is easy to locate. It is clearly written and easy to digest. It is ideal for someone starting out in the area of law as well as helping those more experienced to broaden their understanding. Different practitioners will come to this from different areas - private lawyers, family, mental health and possibly crime or personal injury (if there are any left). Many private lawyers will find the information about the Mental Health Act especially useful as it is often outside their remit - as is the chapter about Judicial Review. Non-contentious lawyers may not have studied that area but, given that a large portion of the work does deal with public bodies and the decisions that they make, they need to be aware of when a judicial review is appropriate.
The book also reproduces the Mental Capacity Act, the Mental Health Act and the National Assistance Act in full, which makes the book a good one-stop reference guide. Also there are signposts to relevant case law, other legislation and guidance, as well also highlighting the difference across the border in Wales.
This book provides an extremely good overview of all aspects of this area of law and as such is good value for money. It provides a valuable guide to the solicitor advising the individuals behind the illness. Let us hope that government policy will meet the increasing demands for funding and support of carers and sufferers and implementation of the legislation as well allowing clients of limited means legal aid to challenge decision-makers.
Authors: Tony Harrop-Griffiths, Jonathan Cowen, Christine Cooper, Rhys Hadden, Angela Hodes, Victoria Flowers, Steven Fuller
David Pickup is senior partner at Aylesbury-based Pickup & Scott