NHS Digital reveals rise in DoLS applications

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) applications rose by 11% in 2016/17, according to NHS Digital data.

Official statistics published today show DoLs applications stood at 217,000 in 2016/17, compared with 196,000 in the previous year.

The number of applications completed rose by 45% to 152,000 from 105,000 in the previous year.

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NHS Digital said the rise in applications over the past three years had been partly due to a Supreme Court ruling in 2014 which lowered the threshold for a ‘deprivation of liberty’.

The report reveals large regional variations for overall applications received, the proportion of applications deemed urgent and the time from receipt of application to sign off.

The North East region had 995 DoLS applications per 100,000 of the adult population, more than double the England-wide average of 492 applications per 100,000 adults.

NHS Digital said this was partly due to supervisory bodies granting authorisations for a shorter period of time, which meant that more frequent applications were required.

The proportion of authorisations signed off that were planned to last less than 90 days was highest in the North East at 24%  compared with 8% in the East Midlands where it was the lowest, and 17% nationally.

There was also a wide variation in the proportion of applications classified as urgent, ranging from 33% in the London region to 71% in the East Midlands. At a local authority level, the variations were wider still, ranging from 4% at Wakefield Council to 93% at South Gloucestershire Council. The average nationally was 50%.

The average number of days from applications being received to being completed across England was 120 days, but there were wide variations across regions. East Midlands had the highest average number of days per application at 211 days, with councils there averaging between 83 days (Derby City Council) and 319 days (Lincolnshire County Council).

The region with the lowest average number of days per application was the North East where the average application took 53 days to complete, with councils there averaging between 12 days (Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council) and 205 days (Northumberland County Council).

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