< July 2018

Government introduces deprivation of liberty safeguards reforms

A new law is being introduced by the government to streamline the complicated and bureaucratic Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLs) system.

The government said the new system will ease the burden on local authorities, saving an estimated £200m a year which will go towards frontline care and address the current backlog of 108,000 people whose safeguards have not been reviewed.

The Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill, which can be viewed here, is designed to ensure the system is less burdensome on people, carers, families and local authorities. It aims to introduce a simpler process with more engagement with families and swifter access to justice.

It also allows the NHS rather than local authorities to authorise patients and enable a more streamlined and clearly accountable process, while considering restriction of people’s liberties holistically as part of their overall care package.

The bill also aims to eliminate repeat assessment and authorisations when someone moves between a care home, hospital and ambulance as part of their treatment.

‘Treating people with respect and dignity, no matter their disability or condition, is the touchstone of a civilised society,’ said minister for care Caroline Dinenage.

‘I want to ensure that the system works for everyone and ensures that individuals’ fundamental rights are protected while reassuring families their loved ones are getting good care.

‘We know local authorities are under pressure which is why these reforms are so important: to reduce the burden on councils so they can focus their resources where they are needed on the frontline.’

Law Commissioner Nicholas Paines QC said: ‘In our report we were clear that the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards needed to be replaced as a matter of pressing urgency.

‘This new legislation, based broadly on our recommendations, will go a long way towards addressing the flaws of the current system and better protect the most vulnerable in our society.’

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