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Providers call for a rethink as Parliament considers new liberty protection laws

Care providers are concerned about the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill which will introduce the Liberty Protection Safeguards, replacing the existing Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS).

The Bill had its initial Committee Stage in the House of Lords yesterday. Provider representative body Care England said that, while there was a general consensus that the existing DoLS arrangements are unwieldy and should be replaced, there were some major concerns about the very premise of the new legislation.

Care providers say aspects of the proposals erode the safeguards that currently protect people who lack capacity to make decisions about their care and treatment, and that such elements sit uncomfortably in services with a culture focussed on respecting the rights and choices of people receiving support.

“As providers we are very concerned about the inherent conflict of interest associated with placing Liberty Protection Safeguards assessment responsibilities on registered care home managers,” said Care England chief executive Professor Martin Green.

“Whilst reform is necessary, as providers we cannot fathom why the Department of Health and Social Care is intent on driving forward a Bill that is simply not fit for purpose. If we are agreed in the final outcome, namely protecting the vulnerable, then the Government must draw on the expertise contained in the Law Commission’s extensive report and start again with due consideration to all parties involved in protecting those in need backed up by proper consultation and impact assessments.”

The Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG) also says the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill requires a radical rethink, pointing out that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has failed to fully engage and consult with social care providers on the reforms.

VODG warns of the potential conflict of interest created by placing LPS assessment responsibilities on care managers, rather than resting with local authorities, making the person responsible for maximising the use of the service also responsible for deciding if someone objects to being there.

Providers may face allegations they are depriving someone of their liberty to fill a vacancy. VODG chief executive Dr Rhidian Hughes said the charity also had concerns about the financial and practical impact of fulfilling this new responsibility when care providers were already under enormous strain.

“VODG has significant concerns about the integrity of the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill which we believe to ill-conceived and flawed,” said Dr Hughes.

“Reform is crucial if the rights of people living in vulnerable circumstances are to be protected, yet the very sector that supports such individuals has not been meaningfully engaged on the changes. The way the Bill has been handled suggests that the goal is saving money, rather than a thoughtful process that prioritises people’s best interests. In its current form, the Bill is not fit for purpose. It requires substantial changes to ensure we have a civilised and effective way of taking life-changing decisions with and for people who need the most support.”

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