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‘Still Need For Consistency’ Over Use Of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

Legal Expert Reacts To New Figures Showing Increase In Applications


By Rob Dixon

A legal specialist in social and healthcare issues has described new figures indicating an increase in the number of requests made in relation to Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (Dols) as a welcome sign, but warned there remained some inconsistency in the use of such measures.

According to statistics released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, 11,890 Dols requests were made in England across 2012/13. This record figure marked a 66 per cent rise on figures from three years ago.

It also found that 55 per cent of the applications were granted, with the majority of the requests relating to patients with dementia as a primary disability.

Mathieu Culverhouse, a legal expert in social and healthcare issues in Irwin Mitchell’s Public Law team, said there were positives to be taken from the research, but said it was vital such safeguards are being used correctly.

He outlined: “The increase in applications being made under the Dols scheme is to be welcomed, as this indicates greater awareness on the part of professionals of the need to ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place for vulnerable adults. 

“The Dols regime is intended to protect the rights of people who cannot consent to their own detention, but who might need to have their liberty restricted in their own best interests. 

“Under the Dols regime, such people, their friends, family and carers can challenge any restrictions if they think they have been wrongly imposed. However, for the system to work, it is of course crucial that the health and social care professionals involved are mindful of these safeguards and make the applications under the Dols regime in appropriate cases.
“These latest statistics seem to indicate that practice is improving in this field, but we continue to come across cases where the appropriate applications have not been made and there still seems to be a great deal of inconsistency in the way that the scheme is applied across the country.”

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