Competence in patients with mental illness is an issue of growing importance. We present a matrix that provides a new tool to separate the elements involved.
This matrix is compatible with, and makes explicit, the Richardson Committee's suggestions concerning the incorporation of a test of capacity in Mental Health Act assessments.
We suggest that use of this matrix may offer practical help to clinicians in arriving at a clear understanding of each clinical situation and guide good practice in the use of the Mental Health Act, particularly in problematic cases.
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