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Protecting people’s human rights when they cannot consent to treatment

16 January 2014
  • Public

We will do more checks on the use of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards which aim to protect people’s human rights when they lack capacity to make decisions about the health or social care they receive.

About the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (also known as ‘the safeguards’) falls under the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) which sets out how people in vulnerable circumstances should be cared for.

Our checks in this area will now become a routine part of our hospital and care home inspections and we will work more closely with local authorities to support them in their role as supervisory bodies.

Findings from our latest report

In our fourth annual report in to the use of the safeguards, we have found:

  • people in care homes and hospitals may continue to be subject to restraint and possible deprivation of liberty without legal protection.
  • people’s experiences of the safeguards are mixed (the case studies in the full report show how the system can work well for people).
  • there has been a significant increase in the number of applications for the use of the safeguards of people aged over 85.
  • application rates continue to vary by region – but the reasons for this are unknown.
  • around two thirds of care homes and hospitals are failing to notify us of the outcome of their application to use the safeguards.

For the first time, we also surveyed local authorities on their monitoring of the MCA.

Of 118 of 152 local authorities:

  • knowledge of the safeguards generally appears to be good - most had appropriate structures and processes in place to operate the system effectively.
  • some did not actively encourage people’s representatives or their Independent Mental Capacity Advocates to enable people to challenge authorisations.

CQC Chief Executive, David Behan, said: “We expect more focus on reducing the restraint and restriction of vulnerable people lacking capacity.

“We want to ensure people who are unable to consent to treatment because they lack capacity receive high quality care as a fundamental part of health and care services. While there has been an increase in the use of DoLS there is still much more that needs to be done to ensure people are appropriately cared for.

“This year, CQC is strengthening its approach to monitoring this legislation and we will be working more closely with local authorities to support them in their roles as supervisory bodies.”

Find out more

Visit Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards for more information.

Last updated:
29 May 2017