Mental health detention applications reach record level, Alzheimer's Society comments

The number of applications to detain people with mental health issues, dementia or learning difficulties for their own safety has reached the highest level on record.

The process, known as Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS), is used when patients who lack the mental capacity to consent need to be detained in a place like a hospital or care home.

It is only used in in circumstances where it would be in the best interest of the person and a proper authorisation process should be in place to ensure it is done lawfully.

New figures from NHS Digital indicated an 11% rise in DoLS applications in England compared to last year. Figures reached 217,235 during 2016/17, the highest since they were introduced in 2009. Meanwhile, thousands of applications have taken more than a year to be completed - despite the recommended time-frame of just three weeks.

Gavin Terry, Policy Manager at Alzheimer’s Society, said: 

'These figures prove once again an issue we have been highlighting for years – that an unacceptable number of people are being left in limbo by a system that is too complex, over-stretched and under-resourced.

'Depriving anyone of their liberty must only ever be a last resort, and in the person’s best interests but too often we hear cases where people with dementia and carers are left confused and distressed by a system that fails to meet their needs.  

'It is vital that the Government responds to the Law Commission’s proposals and takes forward a comprehensive plan of reform that ensures the rights of people with dementia not to be unlawfully deprived of their liberty are protected.'

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