I have power of attorney for my mother, so why won’t the doctors talk to me?
What is a Power of Attorney?
There are three types of Power of Attorney; General Power of Attorney, Enduring Power of Attorney and Lasting Power of Attorney.
General Power of Attorney = a legal document which enables a person to give their authority to another person to another person(s) to act on their behalf and make decisions regarding their financial affairs for a certain period of time (up to a maximum of 12 months). This cannot be used if someone lacks or loses mental capacity.
Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) = a legal document set up prior to October 2007 which enables a person (ie donor) to give their authority to another person(s) (ie attorney) to act on their behalf and make decisions regarding their finances.
While the donor has mental capacity, an existing EPA can be used without being registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). If the donor lacks mental capacity, the EPA must be registered before it can be used. These documents were replaced with Lasting Power of Attorneys after October 2007 so you can no longer make an EPA although it can still be used.
Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) = a legal document which enables the donor to give their authority to another person(s) to act on their behalf. There are two types of LPAs; Property & Affairs and Health & Welfare.
A Property & Affairs LPA allows the attorneys to make decisions in respect of your finances (ie buying or selling property, opening, operating and closing any bank, building society or other accounts). This document can be used by your attorney with your consent or if you lose mental capacity.
A Health & Welfare LPA will cover issues such as where you should live, who you should live with, your day to day care and dental or optical treatment. This document can only be used if you lose mental capacity.
Both LPAs must be registered with the OPG before they can be used.
Why won’t the doctor talk to you?
As mentioned above, in order for the doctor to talk to you about the donor’s health and welfare, you must have a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney. A General Power of Attorney, Enduring Power of Attorney and Property & Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney does not give you authority to talk to the doctors about the donor’s medical care.
The Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney can only be used if the donor loses mental capacity. If the donor has full mental capacity, the doctor will not be able to disclose any information about the donor’s medical care.