Advance Directives (Living Wills)

Advance Directives (sometimes called Living Wills, Advance Decisions to Refuse Treatment or ADRTs) are generally instructions provided by a patient relating to a condition which may arise in the future.

This patient guide will explain how the Practice will deal with an Advance Directive and what the patient responsibilities are. It is not a legal guide, nor is the information provided necessarily complete or binding in all circumstances.

Practice Policy

The Practice abides by the British Medical Association (BMA) and other legal guidelines for advance directives.

Each request from a patient will be considered by the patient’s usual GP.

Appropriate advice will be offered relating to the consequences of the request, if requested by the patient.

The Practice generally supports the principle of patient choice in the provision of treatment and will take the Directive into account in its provision of treatment.

Registration of an Advance Directive

Bring the original document, in person, together with identification for each patient containing a signature – e.g. a photo driving licence or passport.

If you need to discuss it with your GP, make an appointment at least 3 days in advance, advising the receptionist that an Advance Directive is to be discussed.

What the Practice Will Do

  • If you request it, your GP will discuss the clinical implications of your decision bearing in mind your individual health situation to ensure that you fully understand the nature of your request. Your GP may ask you about your Advance Directive again in the future if you come for a consultation.
  • We will make copies of your documents. The originals will be returned to you. Our medical records will be updated with an image of your documents and an alert placed on your record which will be seen each time your record is opened.
  • We will provide details to other health professionals involved with your treatment as needed, e.g. where a hospital or other referral is necessary.

Patient Responsibilities

  • Maintain your original documents.
  • Re-affirm that the Advance Directive is still valid on a regular basis in writing – annually is recommended.
  • Ensure that your family is aware of the directive.

What the Practice Will NOT Do

  • Your GP is unable to act as a witness or countersign your Advance Directive.
  • Remind you to review or update your directive.
  • Monitor your treatment elsewhere (other than supply a copy of your directive).
  • Express views on the acceptability or legality of the directive in the wide variety of potential future clinical circumstances, or treatments which may be needed.
  • The Practice will not be responsible for the provision of Advance Directive information to health providers where the Practice has not been involved in the care process (e.g. private clinics, temporary registration elsewhere etc)