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Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 22nd March 2016.

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Photo of Ann Coffey Ann Coffey Labour, Stockport 11:30 am, 22nd March 2016

What recent representations he has received on the effect on health budgets of the administration of deprivation of liberty safeguards.

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt The Minister of State, Department of Health

I have received a range of representations on the effect of the deprivation of liberty safeguards, including on the impact that the current system has on health and care budgets. The hon. Lady is a respected voice on the challenges that these safeguards pose, and I can reassure her and the House that there is ongoing work to address those challenges.

Photo of Ann Coffey Ann Coffey Labour, Stockport

I thank the Minister for his reply. Deprivation of liberty assessments are costing Stockport Council £1.2 million this year, as a result of the Cheshire West judgment. Not one single penny of that is providing social care. This is clearly unsustainable at a time when social care budgets are under intense pressure. Something needs to be done now; we cannot wait for the Law Commission. Will the Minister consider, as a small step forward, scrapping costly automatic annual reassessments and the necessity to reassess every time an elderly person leaves a care home to go into hospital?

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt The Minister of State, Department of Health

I will happily look at anything that might assist us. As the hon. Lady knows, we are caught in the process of trying to deal with a court judgment and the issues surrounding mental capacity in relation to deprivation of liberty safeguards, which are genuinely serious and cannot be easily changed at the stroke of a pen, as well as the extra costs that the problem has raised. We are now close to hearing the Law Commission’s post-consultation proposals. I understand that it will publish its latest analysis in mid-May and will have drafted detailed legislation by the end of December. I will look at any suggestion of hers that might ease the situation practically.

Photo of David Nuttall David Nuttall Conservative, Bury North

Will the Minister confirm that when the new legislation is finally introduced, it will be simpler to understand and result in fewer bereaved relatives facing distressing delays when a loved one dies in care?

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt The Minister of State, Department of Health

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. What has caused the confusion has been a definition of loss of liberty and dying in state detention that bears no relation to anyone’s common-sense understanding of the situation. Whatever new legislation is proposed by the Law Commission, it must meet the test of being much simpler, but it must also meet the legislative test of meaning what it says so that it does not get disrupted in the courts again.