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The “we need to change the process by which we deal with people with limited mental capacity” Bill

Next Discussed

15th
Oct.

Current
Stage

What

This Bill will amend the Mental Capacity Act 2005 in relation to the authorising arrangements enabling the care or treatment of people who lack capacity to consent to the arrangements.

Why

This Bill seeks to replace the current system known as ‘Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards’ (DoLs). DoLs is an assessment currently carried out on people who do not have the mental capacity to make their own decisions about their care, because they are living with dementia, a learning disability or a brain injury.

DoLs was criticised by a 2017 Law Commission review for being too complex and bureaucratic. The Government has now developed a new system, known as ‘Liberty Protection Safeguards’ (LPS), which will become law through this Bill.

The reforms seek to:

  • introduce a simpler process that involves families more and gives swifter access to assessments
  • be less burdensome on people, carers, families and local authorities
  • allow the NHS, rather than local authorities, to make decisions about their patients, allowing a more efficient and clearly accountable process
  • consider restrictions of people’s liberties as part of their overall care package
  • get rid of repeat assessments and authorisations when someone moves between a care home, hospital and ambulance as part of their treatment.

Who

This is a Government Bill introduced in the House of Lords by Lord O’Shaughnessy from the Department of Health.

Other Arguments

The Bill has not, so far, had the support of disability and care charities who say that this Bill will not enact the changes recommended by the Law Commission.

The charity Disability Rights UK said the Bill will “will affect the fundamental human rights of hundreds of thousands of people”. Commenting on the Bill Sue Bott CBE, Deputy CEO Disability Rights UK said:

I am concerned with the contents of this Bill which takes the rights of disabled people backwards. There is nothing more serious for an individual than a decision to deprive them of their liberty yet, as it stands, this Bill will make challenging such decisions difficult and costly with little independent oversight and no commitment to taking the views of the individual into account.

The National Care Forum has worked with a number of disability charities to provide a response to the bill. They say that the current law says that everyone gets someone independent to look into their care, whereas under the new law, only people who complain about the care they receive would get an independent assessment. Vic Rayner, Executive Director of the National Care Forum said;

There are huge concerns about the implications of the proposed legislation for both the protection of human rights of individuals and the impact on care providers. The government needs to return to the principles upheld within the Law Commission review and work with the sector to find a solution that addresses the shortfalls of the status quo.

How to get involved

You can contact your own MP, or one of the many charities campaigning on this Bill.

If I don’t act, will it go through?

This is a Government Bill so is likely to go through.