William Eichler 03 July 2018

Law simplifying safeguarding measures to save councils £200m

A new law designed to streamline the system which safeguards vulnerable people in care is set to save local authorities an estimated £200m a year.

The Government today introduced a new law which is intended to simplify Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLs).

This will, Whitehall claims, ease the burden on councils and address the current backlog of 108,000 people whose safeguards have not been reviewed.

A DoLs assessment is carried out on people who do not have the mental capacity to make their own decisions about their care. It is a safeguard to ensure they are only being deprived of their liberty when it is in their best interest to keep them safe.

Last year the Law Commission published a report which described DoLs as ‘unfit for purpose’.

The new bill will introduce a simpler process with more engagement with families and swifter access to justice, and consider restrictions of people’s liberties holistically as part of their overall care package.

It will also allow the NHS, rather than local authorities, to authorise their patients, and will eliminate repeat assessments 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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