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Lack of safeguards in liberty deprivation cases constitutes ‘breach of human rights’

A LACK of safeguards to protect vulnerable people in care from being unlawfully stripped of their freedom constitutes a breach of human rights, mental-health charity Mind warned yesterday.

Tens of thousands of people in care have been left in limbo for more than a year while their carers applied to deprive them of their liberty, NHS Digital figures show.

A hospital or care home can apply to take away a patient's liberty if they are deemed to lack the ability to make decisions on their own care, for example those suffering from dementia.

The patient is then kept in a locked room or ward, or not permitted to go anywhere without permission or close supervision until a decision is reached.

There is  a legal time limit of 21 days for applications to be processed – but council figures from the end of March 2019 show that 51,500 (39 per cent) applications had been sitting in limbo for more than a year.

Experts have raised concerns that some may be facing unnecessary restrictions.

Mind's specialist policy adviser, Alison Cobb, said: "It is a disgraceful breach of human rights that people are having their freedom taken away without legal safeguards while they wait a year or longer for their application to be processed.

"This can mean that they have to endure unnecessary delays to being placed in the best care setting for them, which would help to protect them from harm."

Alzheimer's Society said the number of outstanding applications was “shocking.”

Policy director Sally Copley told the Star: “This is further evidence of why Alzheimer’s Society is campaigning to fix dementia care and make safeguards fit for purpose, so people with dementia, who so desperately need support, aren’t open to rights abuse."




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