A bill was introduced to the House of Lords on the 3rd July 2018 that seeks to replace the outdated Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) in order to better protect the rights of individuals whose liberty is deprived due to lack of mental capacity.
Individuals, over the age of 18, can be deprived of liberty due to their inability to make their own best interest decisions. This can be for a variety of reasons, from illnesses that limit mental capacity, such as dementia to severe learning difficulties. The proposed replacement of DoLS will be referred to as the Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS).
The Supreme Court decision of Cheshire West in March 2014 lowered the threshold of what is to be regarded as a deprivation of liberty, which caused a large increase in DoLS cases. These cases drew attention to the fact that DoLS were not fit for purpose, as deemed by a House of Lords Select Committee in 2014.
The amendment bill introduced into the House of Lords on Tuesday, argues that DoLS is bureaucratic and overly complex, leading to confusion of both the medical professionals intended to apply them, and the individuals they seek to protect. The Bill also puts forth that there is a conflict of interests between the local authorities and health professionals, and a lack of oversight and safeguards.
The Bill recommends that the DoLS be immediately replaced with a new system, the LPS. The bill suggests that the age of individuals affected by the legislation should be lowered to 16. A new system of protective care would consist of supportive care scheme, restrictive and treatment scheme, and a hospitals and palliative scheme. The restrictive and treatment scheme would directly replace DoLS. Under the new scheme, a mental capacity professional would be required to expressly authorise any form or deprivation of liberty or avoid the need for it by seeking alternative solutions. The mental capacity professional would have to give objective medical evidence that the deprivation of liberty is in the best interests of the individual in order to approve this.