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New data reveals shocking impact of LPS delay

31 August 2023

People have been left in limbo for more than 5 years in over 50 local authorities, thanks to the broken Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.

NHS England has revealed that only 19% of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) applications are completed within the statutory timeframe of 21 days, with an average wait time of 156 days. This is despite the fact that 56% of applications are marked as urgent.

One person has been waiting for a completed application for 19 years.

NHS England annual monitoring of DoLS, 2022 - 2023

Shocking but not surprising”

VoiceAbility and many other disability rights charities have been campaigning to reform the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards for years, because it has consistently failed to protect people’s human rights.

The House of Lords called DoLS not fit for purpose” almost 10 years ago.

DoLS applies to people who are deemed to lack capacity to consent to arrangements for their care, including where they live, and how they live. 

Without a DoLS assessment being done in a timely way, they may be stuck in a situation which is not in their best interests - with inadequate support, in an inappropriate setting or with more restrictions than are necessary.

Imagine not being able to leave the place you live in even to get some fresh air or to go for a walk in the park? Or being separated from your family, spouse or partner, without an explanation that you understand as to why, or lacking any effective way of challenging this?

Jonathan Senker, VoiceAbility Chief Executive

The government agrees that DoLS is a broken system. 

They developed Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS) to replace it - but this was originally due to be implemented in 2020. Now, its implementation has been delayed with no confirmed implementation date.

In response to the new data, Rupen Gahir Kalsi, senior policy manager at VoiceAbility, said:

These figures are shocking, but not surprising. 

This is wholly predictable and is why Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards were due to be replaced by Liberty Protection Safeguards earlier this year – legislation which has now been shelved.

LPS is not the perfect solution, but implementing this would make a huge difference to people, the majority of whom are older people, stuck living in places they don’t want to be, separated from friends and family. They need urgent action from government now.

What needs to happen now

Government must urgently implement LPS to stop ensure people’s rights are upheld and decisions are made in their best interests.

In the meantime, they must deploy more resources to reduce this unacceptable backlog, and ensure people stuck on waiting lists receive the protections they’re entitled to.

Although we worked with colleagues from the Department of Health and Social Care on their consultation for the LPS Code of Practice, we know that LPS is not a fix-all solution. 

It must be implemented alongside further reform: systemic change at a local and national level to ensure it’s possible to provide what’s in people’s best interests - whether that’s a care package that allows them to live in their own home, or a hospital that’s close to their family and support network.

That systemic change does not stop there. Ultimately, we must work together for a future where everyone’s rights are respected without a fight.