Ann Coffey

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Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill

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29th January 2019

The Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill is replacing the current safeguards system known as the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) with the new ‘Liberty Protection Safeguards’ for people with dementia and other mental incapacities who cannot make important decisions about their care.   The new system will look to streamline the safeguarding process and help vulnerable people access legal protections.

In anticipation of the Bill’s arrival in the Commons, I have held conversations with Stockport Council to hear their concerns about the proposed changes.  Earlier this month I raised these concerns with the Caroline Dineage, the Health Minister in Parliament.

The Minister provided me with a short brief.  You can read this brief here, which details the proposed changes through the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill.

I strongly believe that we must not impose unnecessary restrictions on the freedoms of those left vulnerable by their dementia and mental incapacity. However, it is also important that we have a robust system in place which protects them and their families from any undue stress.  Under the previous DoLS system, there is still a backlog of 125,000 applications for assessment, these delays can leave people waiting for an assessment in a vulnerable position.  It also means that resources that could have been spent on social care are being spent on the bureaucracy of multiple assessments as every time, somebody moves from a care home to a hospital they need an assessment and as they move from a hospital back to a care home another assessment.

Many of you have written to me concerned about any potential conflicts of interest between care-providers and hospitals and the individuals need for an independent assessment.  The issue of assessments and care providers was debated on January 15th.  The Government are in favour of removing a conflict of interest as outlined by Caroline Dinenage where she expressed – “in independent hospital cases, an approved mental capacity professional must complete that review—that is a duty—and if an independent hospital as a responsible body fails to do that, it would be in clear breach of its responsibilities and could be subject to legal challenge.”

If you have a further interest in the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill’s progress through the Commons you can follow updates here.