Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill [HL] - Committee (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 22nd October 2018.

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Photo of Lord O'Shaughnessy Lord O'Shaughnessy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 7:00 pm, 22nd October 2018

I thank the noble Baronesses for tabling their amendments about renewals. I deal first with Amendment 58A, moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, which, as she said, would have the effect of meaning that authorisations cannot be renewed for longer than 12 months. As she pointed out, this would go against the Law Commission’s recommendation, which was that there could be circumstances under which renewals took place for up to three years, particularly following an initial review after up to 12 months and if it was unlikely that there would be a change in the person’s condition.

These three-year renewals are in place so that those who are in a stable condition and unlikely to recover are not subjected to annual assessments. The Bill does provide the safeguard—referred to by the noble Baroness—which ensures that an authorisation would need to be reviewed if there is a change. We would also want to make sure that there are appropriate reviews of arrangements when annual reviews under the Care Act take place. It would be up to the responsible body to set review periods. In care home settings, the care home manager must report to the responsible body on any reviews that have been carried out. As the Bill stands, there are significant safeguards to prevent abuse or lack of care of the vulnerable person.

All that being said, I know how strongly noble Lords and stakeholders feel about this issue. The noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, made a valid point about aligning the review process with the terms set out under the Care Act. I would like to give further thought to this, particularly in the context of the discussions which will be taking place about the proper role of the care home manager. There is clear concern about a proper system of oversight and regular review where responsibility has been devolved to the care home manager. If the noble Baroness will allow me, I will follow that up after this debate.

Amendment 58B, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, considers an authorisation ceasing to be renewed if it has lapsed wholly or in part. We will want to give further consideration to that. As discussed earlier in Committee, there are circumstances under which one might be happy for an authorisation to continue after a very minor change. That might be the proper process to align this to, and I want to give further thought to this.

Amendment 58C asks that, when deciding whether to renew authorisations in care home cases, responsible bodies should consider other relevant information, as well as that provided by the care home manager. I can confirm that the Bill does allow responsible bodies to consider information other than that provided by the care home manager. That would, inevitably, be in other formats too. We will set out more detail on that in the code of practice.

Amendment 62A would add the word “arranging” to the scenarios in which the care home manager was required to notify the responsible body that an IMCA should be appointed. The amendment intends to make sure that that happens at the earliest stage, including when the assessments are being arranged. That is what the word “proposing” in the Bill achieves. We are satisfied that the language currently in the Bill means that care home managers would be looking at this issue when they are beginning to propose an authorisation, which is the earliest point at which planning for, arranging or bringing together the assessments would take place. I would be happy to demonstrate what underpins our belief that this is the case. I do understand what the noble Baroness is driving at; it is something which we are trying to achieve.

On that basis, I hope that the noble Baronesses are willing to withdraw or not move their amendments.