• Sense prevailing 21 November 2016 | View comments

  • 21st November 2016 | by David Jolley

    It is a great relief to find that a major step toward a return of sanity in the legal issues relating to care homes and the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards has been taken this week.

    The Cheshire West ruling has meant that many thousands of people have been absurdly and expensively deemed ‘detained by the state’. This has caused bewilderment and distress to their families and carers, stresses which have been made worse by the Chief Coroner’s interpretation of the law to the effect that all deaths of people dying whilst registered with DoLS must be handled by the coroner.

    There has been pressure from families, professionals and politicians to return the law to a more sensible and sensitive format. On Wednesday of this week Baroness Finlay of Llandaff brought the matter to the House of Lords and it is now only a question of time and process through the House of Commons before we can return to a situation where natural and expected deaths are dealt with by the patient’s doctor, and referral to the coroner is reserved for cases where there is uncertainty.


    In addition to clearing away the cloud of unwarranted suspicion and strain on individuals, this will release millions of pounds and coroner time for other purposes.

    We still look for suggestions from the Law Commission on a better version or alternative to the current DoLS legislation.

    While wishing to be sure that no one’s Human Rights are compromised, I would wish for formal detention to be restricted to those people who lack capacity and are clearly unhappy to be in the place where they are living, having been placed there with regard for what is thought to be their best interests.

    If this can be achieved it will make many families happy and release millions more pounds to be spent on other things. 

    Maybe if this can be done the vicious scramble to make people pay for their care, when they are clearly rendered in need of that care by illness rather than social circumstances, can be confronted and a more honest and legal regime established within the domain of NHS Continuing Care.

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