The Office of the Public Guardian has issued guidance confirming that an Attorney acting under a Lasting Power of Attorney or a Deputy acting under a Court Order should be given access to the medical records of the person they are tasked with looking after. These roles allow someone (the Attorney or Deputy) to step in and speak on behalf of the individual who may have lost capacity. Some of the decisions they may have to make will require a full understanding of the person's medical history to ensure that the correct steps are taken. This includes health decisions but also those that may be made under a Financial Lasting Power of Attorney - for example when investing funds and tying those funds in for a set period, it would be essential to know if there is an increased likelihood of residential care or expensive treatment needed in the near future. Or the example given by the OPG which is knowing whether to sell a property of someone with a brain injury to pay for the residential care home they are currently occupying or if there is a chance the person will improve and be able to return to their home in the future. This, with the confirmation that the Information Commissioner's Office has backed this guidance, should give health care providers the comfort to disclose this essential information; and assist Attorneys and Deputy to act in the best interests of their Donors.
I can't stress how important Lasting Power of Attorney documents are. Not just for elderly relatives, but as this pandemic has shown us, for people of all ages.
the Information Commissioner’s Office advises that “it is reasonable to assume that an attorney with authority to manage the individual’s property and affairs, or a person appointed by the Court of Protection to make decisions about such matters, will have the appropriate authority”.