Are society's most vulnerable voices being heard?

19 July 2013


Advocacy service providers will appear before the House of Lords Committee charged with investigating the Mental Capacity Act 2005 on Tuesday 23 July, to talk about their experiences of representing vulnerable people.

As a key safeguard against abuse, advocacy was again in the spotlight this week when the Government gave its response to the Confidential Inquiry into the premature deaths of people with learning disabilities, and with the publication of the independent review of the Liverpool Care Pathway. Both reports made recommendations about the importance of following the decision-making framework of the Mental Capacity Act when considering serious medical treatment or the withdrawal of active care; that includes the provision of an advocate in cases where a person is found to lack capacity and has no-one to speak on their behalf.

The Committee will hear from:

  • Steve, Gray, Director of Operations at Asist;
  • Elyzabeth Hawkes, Regional Manager at POhWER; and
  • Jonathan Senker, Chief Executive of VoiceAbility.

The Committee will ask if the Act is clear enough on when the advocate should support their client in making a decision and when it is permissible to overrule those wishes in their client’s best interests; how they make sure advocacy is good advocacy; whether there are enough advocates in general and with specialist skills to represent those with communication disorders; if local authorities and the NHS are commissioning the right services in the right way; and whether advocates should be accountable to a national professional body.

The evidence session will take place at 10.40am, on Tuesday 23 July in Committee Room 2 of the House of Lords.

The session will be webcast at www.parliamentlive.tv and is also open to the public. Journalists wishing to attend should go to Parliament’s Cromwell Green Entrance and should allow time for security screening.

Subscribe to Lords newsletter

Sign up for the House of Lords newsletter for the latest news, debates and business