Masthead Local Govt - Adult Social

Government introduces legislation in bid to replace Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

The Government has this week (3 July) introduced the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill to the House of Lords as it seeks to replace the ‘Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards’ (DoLs).

The Bill contains a new system based mainly on proposals from the Law Commission and known as ‘Liberty Protection Safeguards’.

The Department for Health and Social Care said the reforms would seek to:

  • introduce a simpler process that involves families more and gives swifter access to assessments
  • be less burdensome on people, carers, families and local authorities
  • allow the NHS, rather than local authorities, to make decisions about their patients, allowing a more efficient and clearly accountable process
  • consider restrictions of people’s liberties as part of their overall care package
  • get rid of repeat assessments and authorisations when someone moves between a care home, hospital and ambulance as part of their treatment

The Department also claims the reforms will save local authorities an estimated £200m or more a year.

Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage said: “Treating people with respect and dignity, no matter their disability or condition, is the touchstone of a civilised society. 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.”

Responding to the announcement, Glen Garrod, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said: “It’s encouraging that the Government have found Parliamentary time to begin the process of moving from the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards to a long-awaited and proportionate new system under the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill. We look forward to working with the Department of Health and Social Care as well as our key partners and stakeholders to work through what will be required to ensure this Bill can be implemented as soon as practicable and in the most effective way possible.

“Once enacted, it is hoped that this law will help ensure the protection of liberty of people of all who lack mental capacity, more effectively and efficiently than under the present Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.

“A period of transition is likely to be needed to enable health and care staff and provider organisations to adapt to the new system. As part of this it is essential that a fully-resourced programme which will include training is put in place to support the new process." 

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