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Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DOLS)

Quick summary

- Supervisory bodies have a legal obligation to provide assessors.

- It is not a requirement of the registered GP to perform any of the assessment functions.

- There must be a minimum of two assessors.

- The mental health assessor and best interest assessor must be different people.

- There is no longer a requirement to report a death that occurs whilst under DOLS to the Coroner.

DOLS are an amendment to the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

Deprivation of liberty is when a person is under continuous supervision and control and is not free to leave, and the person lacks capacity to consent to these arrangements.  To deprive a person of their liberty, a care home or hospital has to apply for ‘standard authorisation’ from the Local Authority.

DOLS provides a series of checks to ensure protection for the person that is being deprived of their liberty and ensures that the action is appropriate and in the best interests of that person.  

There are six assessments in all that need to be undertaken to satisfy the requirements of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

1.  Age assessment

Confirmation that the individual is 18 year of age or older.

Undertaken as part of the best interest assessment.

2.  No refusal assessment

Confirmation that standard authorisation does not conflict with any other pre-existing decision making authority.

Undertaken as part of the best interest assessment.

3.  Mental capacity assessment

Confirmation that the individual lacks capacity to decide about their deprivation of liberty.

Undertaken as part of the mental health assessment or best interest assessment.

4.  Mental health assessment

Confirmation of the existence of a mental health disorder as defined in the Mental Health Act 1983.

The doctor carrying out this assessment must be approved under Section 12 of the Mental Health Act 1983 or be a registered medical practitioner with at least 3 years post registration experience in the diagnosis or treatment of mental disorders.

5.  Eligibility assessment

Confirmation of eligibility for DOLS.

Not a role of the GP.

6.  Best interest assessment

Confirmation that DOLS is in the best interest of the individual.

The assessor must not be involved in the care or treatment of the individual they are assessing.  As such, the registered GP of the individual is not suitable for this role.


Deprivation of liberty safeguards (2015) (download)