The Government has told local authorities and other agencies not to give priority to the introduction of the Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS) due to pressures from dealing with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The LPS were due to take effect on 1 October and while the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has not said preparations must be stopped it has indicated their introduction would be delayed.
In England and Wales the new system will authorise deprivation of liberty to provide care or treatment to an individual who lacks capacity to consent.
A DHSC spokesperson said: “We are aware of the pressures the pandemic is putting on the health and social care sector and are not asking the sector to prioritise LPS preparation during this time. We will provide further updates as soon as possible.”
The Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act 2019 introduced LPS to replace the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS).
Then care minister Caroline Dinenage said when the Act became law that the DoLS system, was “broken and bureaucratic, and currently leaving thousands without protection”.
Andrew Parsons, senior partner and head of healthcare providers at law firm Radcliffes LeBrasseur, said: “As a result of the obvious need to focus on the coronavirus pandemic, there has been little reference recently to the liberty protection safeguards that were due to come into force on 1 October 2020.
“Although the primary legislation was passed, the necessary statutory instruments and code of practice were awaited – and that remains the position.”
Mr Parsons said there was little prospect of the new safeguards being implemented this year and there remained “clear issues to address in terms of training for those who are expected to implement this, and who will bear the cost of this".