The Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill will introduce legislation to replace the current system known as ‘Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards’ (DoLs).
DoLs is an assessment currently carried out on people who lack the mental capacity to make their own decisions about their care, for example because they are living with dementia. However, this system has been criticised by the Law Commission for being too complex and bureaucratic and is ultimately failing to provide vulnerable people with the protections they need.
That is why the Government has now developed a new system, known as ‘Liberty Protection Safeguards’, which will become law through the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill. These reforms will introduce a simpler process that involve families more, gives swifter access to assessments and which will be less burdensome on people, carers, families and local authorities. They will also allow the NHS to make decisions about their patients through a more efficient, and clearly accountable, process and remove repeat assessments when someone moves between a care home, hospital and ambulance as part of their treatment.
I am assured that Ministers have listened to concerns and made changes to strengthen safeguards, such as the exclusion of care home staff from conducting assessments, improved access to advocacy, and the explicit duty to consult with the cared for person.
Ultimately, these reforms will go a long way towards addressing the flaws of the current system and better protect society’s most vulnerable people. They will ensure that individuals’ fundamental rights are protected while reassuring families that their loved ones are getting good care.