infocentreThe number of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) applications has risen by 66% in the 4 years they have been in force, new figures have revealed.

Statistics from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) also found that the number of DoLS applications – which were introduced in 2009 to protect patients who lack mental capacity, typically patients who suffer from dementia or severe learning disabilities – again increased year-on-year.

Nearly 12,000 DoLS applications were made in 2012/13, a 4% increase on 2011/12, which represents a slower rate of increase than in previous years.

But the total increase in DoLS applications since 2009/10, their first year of use, is 66%, the HSCIC reported.

Double DoLS applications granted
DoLS applications are generally made by a care home or hospital to the responsible local authority or primary care trust (PCT), which were still operating during the most recent year of data.

Other findings in the report include:
• More than half of DoLS applications (55%) were granted – a similar figure to the previous two years (56% in 2011/12 and 55% in 2010/11) but higher than in 2009/10 (46%)
• 71% of applications were completed on behalf of people with mental health conditions, with dementia recorded as the primary disability of the person in 54% of all applications
• Of the applications refused by responsible bodies, 80% were because a “best interests” assessment had not been met
• More than half (55.8%) of all authorisations granted in 2012/13 were for a duration of 0 to 90 days, while only 7% were granted for 365 days or more. Local authorities granted a higher proportion of authorisations with duration of more than 180 days (27%) than PCTs (4%). This may reflect differences between the care needs of hospital patients and care home residents
• 28.3 applications were made per 100,000 people aged 18 and over with application rates rising with age – from 9.6 per 100,000 people aged 18 to 64, to 265.3 per 100,000 people aged 85 and over.

These figures come just over a week after a report by the Parliamentary Health Select Committee found that DoLS were not working well, their use varied across the country and that they need to be reviewed: www.learningdisabilitytoday.co.uk/deprivation_of_liberty_safeguards_not_working_well_says_parliamentary_committee.aspx]  
The full report can be accessed at: http://www.hscic.gov.uk/pubs/mentcap1213annual