The Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) Service, established under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, has published its first annual report. The role of the IMCA is to represent and support people without capacity, mainly without family or friends, with important decisions.

The Department of Health’s assessment was that a great deal had been achieved in the first year however referrals should be at a higher level for all decisions, suggesting that awareness of, or compliance with, the Act is insufficient.

Referrals for Serious Medical Treatment were low across the whole country, raising concerns about the extent to which the NHS is currently complying with the requirements of the Act. The suggested explanation for this is that perhaps some doctors do not understand that there is a statutory duty to make referrals or that they do not agree with the duty. The solution to the problem is continued awareness.

Copies of the report are available at:

Department of Health 24th July 2008