Care leaders have expressed significant concerns over the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill as enters its final stages in Parliament.
The House of Lords will today debate the Bill following its consideration in the House of Commons.
Judy Downey, Chair and CEO of the Relatives & Residents Association said: “The Relatives & Residents Association works to protect the human rights of older people who use care services. It is clear that these proposals will mean that more people who lack mental capacity will suffer.
“Depriving people of their liberty by removing independent professional judgments will leave thousands of older people without protection. Too many people are already cut off from their family and friends as a result of bannings and restrictions without proper legal safeguards. The Bill will exacerbate these failings.”
Over 100 organisations have called for a halt to the legislation, urging the government to consult with the sector.
Concerns over the legislation include: people’s individual views and wishes not being given sufficient weight; care home managers being too closely involved in the deprivation of liberty process; insufficient safeguards being fully enshrined in law; the complexity of the new process; an extension in the time allowed for the review of liberty from one to three years; and additional costs for care providers.
Dr Rhidian Hughes, chief executive of the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG), said: “People are currently being deprived of their liberty in health and social care services without the correct authorisations in place. That is plain wrong and should be resolved by funding the existing system to work properly until acceptable new measures can be introduced. Whilst government has driven through legislation to save money we remain committed to all efforts that uphold human rights safeguards.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “This Bill has vulnerable people at its heart – currently they face a backlogged and bureaucratic system which must be reformed urgently, and we have consulted extensively with the sector and individuals and carers on the changes.
“Care home managers have a role to play in collecting information and identifying a need for safeguards, as they do already, but will never conduct or authorise assessments themselves.
“We will consult on a comprehensive code of practice for the Bill and are working with a wide range of organisations to ensure these reforms truly promote and protect vulnerable people’s liberty.”