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Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards to be replaced

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The Government is looking to introduce legislation replacing the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) with an alternative system.

The current Deprivation of Liberty Standards is part of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and ensures that people incapable of looking after themselves, such as those in care homes or hospitals, are treated in a manner that does not inappropriately restrict their freedom. The legislation guarantees:

  • The person’s arrangements are in their best interest
  • They have someone appointed to represent them
  • They have a legal right of appeal to those arrangements
  • Arrangements are regularly reviewed and do not continue longer than is necessary.

The move to introduce legislation comes in the wake of a Law Commission review and a verdict from a House of Lords committee that the current DoLS was not fit for the purpose.

The committee found that the system was weighed down by bureaucracy, which led to “many thousands of people” in care settings being detained without due cause.

The Law Commission proposed changes to the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, which included:

  • Applying the new legislation to deprivations in all settings, as opposed to solely care homes and hospitals, meaning a Court of Protection welfare order would no longer be required outside of such settings
  • The power to authorise a deprivation of liberty in England to be extended from councils to hospitals and clinical commissioning groups
  • Reducing the assessments needed to authorise a deprivation of liberty from six to three
  • Introducing a two-tier system of safeguards, where there is currently only one.

Although the Government is said to be keen to implement the changes, any replacement is currently “provisional” and liable to change before final approval.

MFG Solicitors’ Eldery Care and Court Protection team can assist in any matters related to care or care home abuses. Our experts also advise on any other related aspects of law. For more information, contact us today.