The end of DOLS?

On 13 March 2017, the Law Commission published its report on the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DOLS) with proposals for their replacement.

The report calls the DOLS “overly technical and legalistic” and sets out how the current regime is “in crisis and needs to be overhauled” as a matter of “pressing urgency”.

The proposed replacement system is called the Liberty Protection Safeguards. The key aspects of this new system include:

  • It applies to ages 16 and above (DOLS is 18+)
  • It covers any setting (not just care homes and hospitals) including travel between one and another
  • Responsibility for authorisation belongs with the body commissioning the care, for instance Local Authorities or Clinical Commissioning Groups.
  • It is a front-loaded system in which authorisation is sought as part of the care planning process
  • Urgent authorisations are replaced by a statutory authority to deprive someone of their liberty temporarily in an emergency to allow life-sustaining treatment or prevent a serious deterioration
  • Introduction of an Approved Mental Capacity Professional comparable to the Approved Mental Health Professional in mental health legislation.

These are significant changes and address many of the problems arising out of the current system. However, the key question at the moment is how far down the government list these changes are in the current climate.

In conclusion, we are one step closer to a world without DOLS. However, it is likely that this is, as yet, some way off.

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