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Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards: Ensuring effective use and compliance in practice

Niall Fry, MCA and DoLS Lead, Department of Health opened today’s Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards conference with a presentation on Ensuring effective use and compliance in practice. In his presentation Niall discussed:  

  • the implications of the Supreme Court ruling in March 2014
  • implications of the Parliamentary Committee findings & the government response
  • DoLS: ensuring compliance
  • challenges, grey areas and difficult issues in practice
  • current issues and what the future holds for DOLs

Niall Fry's full presentation is available for download at the end of this page. 

Presentation Abstract:

The last 18 mon' ths have seen dramatic developments on the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) and the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS). The House of Lords report in March 2014 highlighted poor MCA implementation and a risk averse attitude to those who lack capacity. The Supreme Court judgment in the case of Cheshire West, also in March 2014, resulted in a ten-fold increase in DoLS applications and a fundamental review of legislation. This presentation discusses progress made over the last year and looks forward to coming priorities, including the launch of a new National Mental Capacity Forum.

In his presentation Niall discussed:

Priorities for the next year

  • Activating MCA leads – e.g. in Clinical Commissioning Groups, Health & Wellbeing Board, GP Practices
  • Translating MCA training to MCA practice
  • Working through the new cross-Government “MCA Implementation Group” to build a more aligned and collaborative programme – health and care but also financial, legal, police
  • It is clear, that although national leadership and alignment of national levers is important, benefits for service-users will only be realised following local action and when practitioners embrace and practice MCA principles: some great local examples, but some areas far behind……
  • And so our major initiative for the next year and beyond……………………

The future of DoLS – the challenge

  • Severe criticisms from Parliament: complexity of legislation and variability in use
  • Supreme Court judgment: ten-fold increase in cases. DoL no longer rare
  • Difficult fit in today’s health and care system and with key priorities
  • The challenge: a system that delivers real benefits for individuals and their families (encourages their engagement), best use of health and care system funding, complements (does not duplicate) other safeguards in the health and care system


  • The principles of the MCA are basic good practice and should be embedded in the culture of all
  • organisations providing care to vulnerable people.
  • CQC want to see evidence of this practice in inspections:  not just lip-service
  • Keep a look out for developments on the new National Mental Capacity Forum

“DoLS - are about people, not paperwork. Good principles but the Law Commission’s work is focussing on realising benefits for individuals and less bureaucracy for professionals.”

Niall Fry Biography:

Niall has worked at the Department of Health for over six years. His roles have including leading for the Chief Medical Officer on the response to the H1N1 influenza pandemic, leading on public health Research and Development policy and a secondment to the World Health Organisation’s Global Polio Eradication Programme.

Since September 2013, Niall has worked in the Quality and Workforce Team in the Department’s Social Care Division with particular responsibility for the Mental Capacity Act and the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.

Also of interest:

Masterclass: Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards
Wednesday 4 May 2016
Hallam Conference Centre, London

Download: Niall Fry's full presentation

17 November 2015


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