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Lasting Power of Attorney arrangements affected by surge in applications

There are fears that delays in processing a significant increase in Lasting Power of Attorney paperwork could lead to patients who don't want medical interventions being kept alive against their wishes.

LPA arrangements enable someone to appoint a friend or family member to make, on their behalf, financial or medical decisions if they no longer have the capacity to do so themselves - including whether or not they want potentially life-saving medical treatment to continue.

But as the rise in the number of people diagnosed with dementia in our ageing population continues to grow, so does the number of people making LPA arrangements with some calculations estimating an 89 per cent increase in England and Wales between 2013 and 2015 to 510,925.

Impact of the increase in LPAs

All LPAs are recorded by the Office of the Public Guardian- an executive agency sponsored by the Ministry of Justice, which in its most recent annual report admitted there had had been a "significant acceleration" leading to a backlog building up in 2014.

At one point it was taking 84 working days to process a case, more than twice the OPG's target, although this backlog has now been cleared.

A spokesperson said: "It is untrue to say there are currently any backlogs in processing lasting power of attorney applications.

"We've responded to a 30 per cent increase in demand for LPAs, while meeting our customer service target of an average of 40 days."

For more information about LPAs see our Legal Need to Know guides: