Report of the Director of Health and Care
The Director of Corporate Services gave the background to the complaint that had been received from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) in respect of the Council’s approach to Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS).
The Supreme Court judgement in P v Cheshire West and Chester Council changed the definition of what constituted a deprivation of liberty and required them to adopt a different approach. This had resulted in more cases being classified as DoLS and the Council (along with others) had not been able to deal with the increase in workload that had resulted from the need to reprioritise cases, currently categorised as High, Medium or Low priority. The LGSCO had reviewed the Council’s prioritisation process and were unhappy with it. The Council had entered into dialogue with the LGSCO as the Council considered the process reasonable. No risks to individuals had been found and it was a practical approach to dealing with this whilst the legislation goes through the process of amendment. In effect the Council had agreed to disagree with the LGSCO. The LGSCO had found that the Council was not dealing with review of high priority cases quick enough. They were unhappy that medium and low cases were not being reviewed. The LGSCO did not state that the Council must change its system now but had asked the Council to review its system post legislation and produce an action with three months of the legislation coming into force.
A new Mental Capacity Act had received Royal Assent in mid-May and was expected to come into force in Spring 2020. The new regime would have a 12-month transition period. Instead of Deprivation Liberty Standards, it would be referred to as Deprivation of Liberty Protection Safeguards. No further guidance was available at this time. The Director of Corporate Services reassured Members that the Council would produce an action plan in due course. The Council had not received any complaint from an individual regarding the current regime and were not aware of anyone having an adverse reaction to the current way of working. Finally, no local authorities were able to comply with the current legislation.
Members asked if we had the staff in place to deal with any possible changes. The Director of Corporate Services responded that it would depend on whether the changes had any impact on workload. The Council would not have any option but to comply with the new legislation and would have to find the resources to do so. He hoped that if there were financial implications the Council would be given the funding to comply. He added that the regime would less onerous, but it could be more onerous than the current system. It was the Courts that had intervened previously to make the legislation more onerous. He stressed that if we had to find the resources to comply that he would discuss this with the County Treasurer.
Members asked that they be kept updated on this matter and asked to see the action plan in due course.
RESOLVED: a) That the report be received b) that a further update and the action plan be provided to the Committee once the legislation had been received.