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QUEEN'S SPEECH: MENTAL HEALTH - 'Living wills' hands choice to patients.

Controversial 'living wills' allowing patients to make an advance decision to refuse treatment are to be introduced as part of reforms to mental health laws.

Some campaigners have claimed the Mental Capacity Bill may lead the way to legalised euthanasia - a claim disputed by Ministers.

But the Queen's Speech revealed ministers would continue to press ahead with new laws enforcing living wills.

The Bill is also designed to provide better protection to the public from those deemed a risk to others, by making sure they received the treatment they needed.

The proposals form part of the biggest reform of mental health laws since the 1950s.

The draft Mental Health Bill is being studied by the Pre-Legislative Scrutiny Committee, due to report at the end of March 2005.

Elsewhere in the Queen's Speech, the Government pledged to continue with NHS reform 'offering more information, power and choice'.

Ministers have highlighted successes in cutting waiting times for hospital treatment and in A&E, recruiting more doctors and nurses and creating new services such as NHS walk-in centres.

The next stage of the reform programme will aim to make sure responsive, convenient and personalised services are adopted across the whole NHS for all patients.

The Queen's Speech promised hospital superbug infection rates would be lowered.

And there will be a stronger emphasis on prevention, with last week's Public Health White Paper making clear that the NHS would take the lead in helping people change their lifestyles to make them healthier.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 24, 2004
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