LEGAL EAGLE: Record DoLS applications

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Figures released by NHS England show that the number of applications for Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) are at a record high, with the highest number of applications made in the North East.

In 2015 there were 195,840 applications to deprive a person of their liberty in England and Wales, a substantial increase on the 137,540 applications made in the previous year.

An application for a DoLS is usually made to protect a person from harming himself or herself. Applications are issued to a local authority; they are usually issued by a care home or a hospital.

The type of safeguard put in place will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Examples of safeguards include, requiring a person to reside in a care home or with a family member, and using physical restraints (although this is rare and only approved if absolutely necessary).

Once an application had been made, the local authority must consider the application and respond within 21 days. When considering whether to authorise a DoLS, the local authority must be satisfied that it is a person’s best interest for the safeguard to be in place. The local authority must only ever authorise the least restrictive safeguard. If the local authority authorise the restriction, the person subject to the DoLS must always be given a copy of it.

If you, or someone you know, is subject to a DoLS, which you think is not in yours or the person you knows best interest, it is possible to challenge it at the Court of Protection.

Legal Aid is available in these types of cases, providing you are financially eligible.

The issues brought before the Court of Protection can be very painful and are often complex. Our Mental Health, Civil and Property Teams have many years of experience in Court of Protection work across its full range and are ready to offer specialist advice to individuals and their families.

l Paula Harris is a Partner at David Gray Solicitors LLP. You can call for an appointment with Paula or any member of the Court of Protection team on 0191 243 8160 or Chat Live 24/7 by visiting the website.