In the first annual official statistics report since a March 2014 Supreme Court judgment giving new guidance on the use of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS), we hear about the tenfold increase in applications received by councils; 137, 540 between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2015.
Councils completed five times as many as the previous year, with 83% being granted.
There continues to be a variation in regional DoLS applications though. Only 61% of applications were approved in the South West of the country, whilst all other regions saw over 80% granted, with the North East having the highest approval rate of 93%.
The most commonly reported reason why applications were not granted is that they did not satisfy the mental capacity requirement and the best interests assessment.
However, what is clear, from the report itself, is that the scale of the increase can mainly be attributed to the Supreme Court judgment. These ruled that some care arrangements that were not previously considered to be a deprivation of liberty would require a formal DoL authorisation.
It’s clear to see why this has led to a higher proportion of applications not being signed off by the end of the reporting year. As the report itself states, ‘differences between received and completed applications for regions and local authorities may therefore be affected by available resources, local prioritisation approaches and the complexities of each application’.
It’s not surprising then, that the Law Commission is now consulting on DoLS reforms to keep on top of the rise in applications.
In a consultation, which closes on 2nd November 2015, the Law Commission is considering the existing DoLS, and what a replacement scheme might look like. The aim is to achieve better outcomes for those being cared for whilst reducing the burden on local authorities and the NHS.