The Charter was released on 1 June 2011.
It suggests that dying people be encouraged by GPs to set out a legally binding record of their wishes, such as whether they wish to be resuscitated by medical staff and how they want to be treated in their final days of life. The Charter itself is brief and sets out the following commitments:
- to listen to patients’ wishes about the remainder of their lives;
- to help patients to think about their choices and to assist them to record their decisions and wishes;
- to talk to the patients and their loved ones about their future wishes;
- to ensure clear written communication of patients’ views and wishes to their carers and supporters;
- to help preserve independence, dignity and personal control; and
- to support loved ones both during the illness and during bereavement.
The charter emphasises the importance of communication between a patient and their carers/clinicians.
There have been concerns raised that the guidance could encourage assisted suicide but the Royal Colleges have stated that they do not seek to alter the law on assisted suicide.
Readers are reminded that the Mental Capacity Act 2005 sets out the legal formalities required for advance decisions which relate specifically to treatment which a patient would not wish to have undertaken at any future point where they may lack capacity.