Schedule to be inserted as Schedule AA1 to the Mental Capacity Act 2005

Part of Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 15th January 2019.

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Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) 10:45 am, 15th January 2019

I agree very much with that sentiment. We know that local authorities up and down the country are doing sterling work processing applications, but we also know that there is huge geographical disparity, and there are vulnerable people who are not being looked after, with 125,000 cases in the backlog—48,000 of those for more than a year. As with the case of my uncle, many of those cases could already be moot. He had been in and out of hospital and was already back in his care home, and two DoLS applications were still sitting waiting on the backburner that would now never need to be done and were just adding to the bureaucracy, when there are other valid and vulnerable cases waiting to be addressed.

I will move on to a few other issues that were raised. The hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South raised objections in terms of medication rather than location. There must be a best interests meeting, and sometimes a court hearing, on things such as covert treatment. That is already part of the Mental Capacity Act. We want objections to be considered as broadly as possible. They can be raised by those with an interest in welfare, a family or an independent mental capacity advocate. Streamlined systems mean that objections can be considered more quickly and can be acted on sooner.

The hon. Lady also spoke knowledgeably and passionately about the case of Steven Neary, who was held for a year despite parental objections. Under the provisions in the Bill, Steven’s parents would have been able to raise an objection on his behalf. Independent AMCPs would meet Steven and his parents. They could determine that conditions are not met and could agree arrangements so that these things would not be authorised. That type of provision would need to be reconsidered if they continued to deprive him of his liberty; it would be a breach of statutory duty but also of article 5 of the European convention on human rights.