CQC logoApplications for use of the deprivation of liberty safeguards (DoLS) have soared, from about 13,000 a year to around 55,000 in the first two quarters of 2014/15, figures from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have revealed.

The CQC’s fifth annual monitoring report on the implementation of the DoLS found that the numbers of applications to use the deprivation of liberty safeguards rose from 7,200 per year in the first year to 13,000 per year in the year ending March 2014. The CQC noted that these relatively low numbers probably masked unrecognised deprivation of liberty.

However, numbers of applications have increased significantly since March 2014, when the Supreme Court clarified that a person lacking mental capacity to consent to the suggested arrangements is deprived of their liberty if they are both not free to leave and subject to continuous supervision and control.

In the first two quarters of 2014/15, there have been 55,000 applications. This is a good thing, according to the report, since it shows willingness among providers to protect the rights of individuals, and encourage external scrutiny of their care when a vulnerable person might be deprived of their liberty.

David Behan, chief executive of CQC, said: “Both the House of Lords and the Supreme Court criticised the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards for their bewilderingly bureaucratic complexity.  I have considerable sympathy with this view, and welcome the decision by government to ask the Law Commission to look for a framework that is simpler, while still protecting peoples’ rights.

“It is essential that all professionals looking after people who are unable to give consent deliver best practice in order to protect their rights.”

The report also shows that throughout the first five years there have been continued regional variations in application rates, wide variations in practice and training in health and social care organisations and a persistent low number since 2011 – when this became a requirement – of providers notifying CQC of applications to use DoLS and the outcomes.

The full report can be found here