A mental health charity has raised concerns that people who lack mental capacity are being detained in care settings inappropriately.
The Mental Health Foundation was responding to the latest statistical analysis of the operation of the deprivation of liberty safeguards (Dols), which are designed to ensure people are not detained against their best interests or in overly restrictive circumstances.
The Dols were introduced on 1 April 2009 and the NHS Information Centre today published an analysis of their operation in the fourth quarter of 2009-10.
Hospitals and care homes to apply to primary care trusts and councils respectively to have deprivations of liberty authorised, a process that involves six assessments.
The figures, along with analyses of the previous quarters, showed that assessors found that people had been detained inappropriately in 168 cases during the year. In the whole year, 7160 authorisations were requested.
The foundation’s head of policy, Simon Lawton-Smith, described this finding as “worrying”.
He also pointed to large regional variations in the proportion of requests authorised, ranging from 37% in the West Midlands to 65% in the North East.
He said this suggested there was a “postcode lottery situation in which the safeguards are not being consistently observed”.
Lawton-Smith called for more to be done to help councils and PCTs implement the Dols consistently.