Lords urged to safeguard against “judge and jury” DoLS bill

Care home managers cannot be “judge and jury” on mental capacity issues, care sector leaders have said as the ‘son of DoLS’ bill continues making its way into law.

In a joint statement sector leaders agree that reform is necessary because the current system is under-resourced and unworkable. But concerns continue to mount over the government’s plans which they say will save local authorities £200 million or more each year without any evidence that this will be achieved. These proposals will dilute human rights safeguards for the most vulnerable including older and disabled people who will often lack the capacity to speak for themselves.

This renewed call to listen and consult with the sector comes as the Department of Health and Social Care formally declined to answer Freedom of Information Access (FoIA) requests outlining its engagement with the sector on the Bill. This decision has now been put to appeal.

Judy Downey, chair of the Relatives and Residents Association, said: “The Bill requires care home managers to be judge and jury all too often about decisions in which they themselves were involved. This worrying change loses the crucial independent element provided by a professional who has a duty to find out the wishes of the person concerned to provide the least restrictive option.”

Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, said: “We have particular concerns about shifting responsibilities onto care home managers when there is a clear conflict of interest. Peers have scrutinised the Bill in depth and many have expressed their concerns, but the government seems determined to rail road the Bill through Parliament to the detriment of those most vulnerable in society.”

The Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill, currently in the House of Lords, seeks to replace the current system known as ‘Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards’ (DoLs). It aims to change the legal safeguards for people who lack capacity to consent to their care or treatment. A summary of concerns relating to the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill has  been published by various care organisations.  

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