Following a not insignificant wait, the Government has published its response to the Law Commission's review of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS). Broadly, the Government accepts the Law Commission's recommendations - what is less clear is when they will find their way into the legislative timetable.
By way of reminder, the Law Commission recommended an overhaul of DoLS to create a new system, the Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS), which would amongst other things:
- apply to all care settings, including those in the community, to avoid the need for unnecessary and costly applications to the Court of Protection;
- allow one authorisation to apply to more than one setting to minimise repetitive assessment, which is time consuming for service users and health and social care professionals;
- enable NHS bodies to approve authorisations when service users are in NHS settings; and
- simplify the best interests assessment, emphasising that arrangements are necessary and proportionate.
The Government in its response has said that it broadly accepts the Law Commission's recommendations, save for some which overlap with the Mental Health Act Review, and that it will take action to reform the current DoLS system. Crucially, however, in terms of timescales, the Government has said it will bring forward legislation 'when parliamentary business allows'. It is disappointing to hear that these reforms have not been afforded a definitive timescale given that the current DoLS system is under failing under the sheer weight of authorisations and the wasted public expense in applying to the Court of Protection in circumstances where DoLS does not apply.
We see the negative effects of the DoLS system on an almost daily basis and can only hope that the importance of an efficient system to deal with deprivation of liberty makes its way onto the parliamentary radar and the legislative agenda soon.
You can find the Government's full response here. Please do get in touch with any deprivation of liberty issues - they can be thorny and we are always happy to talk them through.
This Government is committed to take action to reform mental health, and transform care for people with learning difficulties and / or autism. Taking action to reform the current DoLS regime is an important contribution towards achieving these aims and providing greater protection for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.