The Department of Health and Social Care has written to the Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS) national steering group to announce that the April 2022 implementation deadline for the Liberty Protection Safeguards cannot be met.

In her letter, Helen Tabiner, Deputy Director of Service Quality, said that they are working hard to launch a public consultation on the draft regulations and draft Code of Practice for the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) and the LPS.

The consultation would run for 12 weeks, allowing sufficient time for those that are affected, including those with learning disabilities, to engage properly.

It had hoped to launch the consultation in the summer. However, they were not able to do so due to a number of factors outside of their control, she said. This now includes monitoring the current situation with the Omicron variant, and therefore the capacity in the sector to engage with a consultation, before it launches.

She added: "It is paramount that the implementation of the LPS is successful so that the new system provides the safeguards that are needed. We recognise that without adequate time to prepare, implementation will not be a success.

"Given the impact of the pandemic on the sectors and professionals who will be called upon to implement these important reforms, along with the unforeseen delay to launching consultation, we recognise that our aim to implement the LPS by April 2022 cannot be met, and I am writing to confirm this formally."

Premature to set a new implementation date

Tabiner confirmed that it was likely that when they launch the consultation they will not set a new target date for implementation.

"The LPS are a complicated set of reforms and we expect that a wide range of stakeholders will submit detailed consultation responses about our plans," she said.

"The government will need time to consider those carefully once the consultation has closed, before making final decisions about the design of the LPS and plans for implementation, including future funding plans. We think it would be premature to set a new implementation date or confirm any funding to support implementation before we have been able to consider responses to the consultation."

What are the Liberty Protection Safeguards?

The Liberty Protection Safeguards will provide protection for people aged 16 and above who are or who need to be deprived of their liberty in order to enable their care or treatment and lack the mental capacity to consent to their arrangements.

People who might have a Liberty Protection Safeguards authorisation include those with dementia, autism and learning disabilities who lack the relevant capacity.

The Liberty Protection Safeguards were introduced in the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act 2019 and will replace the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) system. The Liberty Protection Safeguards will deliver improved outcomes for people who are or who need to be deprived of their liberty. The Liberty Protection Safeguards have been designed to put the rights and wishes of those people at the centre of all decision-making on deprivation of liberty.

The Liberty Protection Safeguards were planned to come into force in April 2022.