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Welsh DOLs during COVID may breach human rights, a new report finds

Over half of Welsh DOLs (Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards) applications in Wales were not assessed within 28 days last year. A new report warns that this may suggest people’s human rights were being breached by being deprived of their liberty unlawfully.

The report for Wales Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) in 2019-20 also finds that the majority of applications to health boards in 2019-20 were urgent (75 per cent of all applications), but that 92 per cent of these applications took more than seven days to process.

Nearly half of all Welsh DOLs applications were withdrawn due to the individual either moving to a different care setting, being discharged from hospital or dying before the application is reviewed.

Care and health regulators report a continuing year-on-year increase in the number of applications received by supervisory bodies, including a 28 per cent increase received by health boards.  

Other key findings include:

  • More than 85 per cent of applications are for people over the age of 65
  • After the age of 85, females account for a significantly higher number of authorisations
  • Of those applications refused by supervisory bodies, approximately half were because the mental capacity condition was not met
  • Health boards propose considerably shorter duration DOLs orders than local authorities.

The Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS) were introduced by the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act 2019 and will replace DoLS as the system to lawfully deprive someone over the age of 16 of their liberty. UK legislation allows for LPS to start on 1 April 2022 and the UK Government is currently producing the draft LPS code of practice for England and Wales, and regulations for England.

The Welsh Government is currently drafting four sets of regulations to support implementation, focusing on: monitoring and reporting; who can undertake assessments and determinations; the role of the new Approved Mental Capacity Professional (AMCPs); and Independent Mental Capacity Advocates.  

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