Laura Sharman 13 March 2017

Vulnerable people being 'failed' by deprivation of liberty law

Thousands of vulnerable people are being detained in care without sufficient checks, a new report has warned today.

The Law Commission has found the law meant to protect people with dementia or learning disabilities from being detained in a hospital or care home is ‘unfit for purpose’.

The Department of Health asked the Law Commission to review ‘deprivation of liberty safeguards’ after a landmark legal case in 2014 widened the definition of who required it.

In a new report, the Law Commission is recommending a new system is designed to ensure that vulnerable people are no longer denied their rights.

Law Commissioner Nicolas Paines QC said: ‘The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards were designed at a time when considerably fewer people were considered deprived of their liberty. Now they are failing those they were set up to protect. The current system needs to be scrapped and replaced right away.

‘We know there are enormous pressures on health and adult social care at the moment and our reforms will not only mean that everyone is given the protections they need, but could also deliver a saving to the taxpayer. That’s cash that can then be directly reinvested to support those most in need.’

The report said the new scheme - called the Liberty Protection Safeguards - would deliver enhanced rights to advocacy and periodic checks on the care or treatment arrangements for those most in need.

It would also widen protections to include care or treatment in the home, and introduce a wider set of reforms to improve decision-making across the Mental Capacity Act.

Read the feature from Nicholas Paines QC explaining why scrapping DoLS would save money and protect patients.

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