Guidance

NHS and social care staff: check if a COVID-19 patient has an attorney or deputy

Find out about the information we have on our registers and how NHS staff and local authorities in England and Wales can ask us for it

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) holds a register of everyone who has a lasting or enduring power of attorney (LPA and EPA), or who has a deputy acting for them. This can be searched to find the contact details of those involved.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, there have been many urgent requests to search the database for people who have lost mental capacity.

If someone lacks the capacity to give consent to medical treatment such as being vaccinated, a deputy or attorney with health and welfare powers should make the decision for them.

OPG is working to respond quickly to these requests, with a process specifically for patients incapacitated by COVID-19.

Local authorities, police and NHS: In a safeguarding investigation, find out urgently if someone has an attorney or deputy.

Request information about a coronavirus patient

Please email OPGurgent@publicguardian.gov.uk using the email template below. Please include:

  • the subject line: ‘COVID-19’, or ‘COVID-19 vaccination’ for vaccination requests
  • the details of the patient
  • your email signature, including your job title and team

It must be sent from an accredited email address, for example @nhs.uk or @gov.uk. We cannot accept requests from personal email addresses.

If possible, please don’t send your request using encrypted email software such as Egress. This slows down the search process and you may not get your results as quickly. Our gov.uk email address is secure.

We aim to respond to requests within 24 hours, Monday to Friday. Requests made over the weekend will be dealt with on Monday as a priority.

Requests that are not for coronavirus patients will be dealt with in the standard process. This is 5 working days.

The information you will receive

You will be told whether an LPA, EPA or deputyship court order is in place.

Where one is in place, you will be told:

  • if it is for health and welfare (some relate only to property and finances)
  • the date it was registered (LPA or EPA) or the date of the court order
  • names and contact details of attorneys or deputies
  • if there are restrictions on the powers of the attorney or the court order
  • if an attorney has authority over life-sustaining treatment for the donor
  • where there are multiple attorneys or deputies, how they are appointed to act
  • if the LPA, EPA or deputyship has been registered, cancelled, revoked or expired
  • the expiry date of any court order

Enduring power of attorney searches

These may take longer as the documents have not been stored digitally.

Email template

Dear OPG

Please search the OPG registers for any information about this person:

Name:
Date of Birth:
Address:

I require this information to assist with: (delete as applicable)

  • moving this person out of hospital care to an alternative setting in order to release their bed for care of patients affected by COVID-19
  • ascertaining best interest treatment decisions for an individual who is in hospital due to infection with COVID-19
  • ascertaining best interest decisions for an individual affected by COVID-19 whilst undertaking my statutory safeguarding duty
  • ascertaining whether this individual should have the COVID-19 vaccination, have a test or self-isolate

I cannot get this from the individual as they do not have mental capacity.

Published 7 April 2020
Last updated 31 March 2021 + show all updates
  1. Amending information about EPA searches from 'only relating to financial information' to 'not stored digitally'

  2. Updating Welsh translation to match the latest changes about vaccinations Adding link to the 'Urgent enquiries rapid register' search on English and Welsh language pages Adding 'registered' to the list of statuses you will be told about the item

  3. Add information about searching on bahalf of patients for COVID-19 vaccinations

  4. Added Welsh translation

  5. First published.