Government to extend AMCP remit in DoLS replacement scheme

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The latest House of Lords debate on the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill has resulted in the Government agreeing to extend the approved mental capacity professional (AMCP) role to improve safeguards for service users under the scheme that will replace the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS).

In the debate, Junior Health Minister Lord O’Shaughnessy announced that the Government would amend the legislation in the House of Commons to extend the range of circumstances in which an AMCP would be required to consider a case.

Peers and professionals expressed concerns that there would be insufficient protections for people who were not evidently objecting to their arrangements but were otherwise particularly vulnerable.

In the previous Lords debate on the Bill, the Government announced it would bring forward amendments when the legislation reaches the House of Commons, to ensure all cases in independent hospitals must be referred to an AMCP.

However, in the most recent debate, opposition peers proposed amendments to further extend the AMCP role to a range of other cases.

In response, Lord O’Shaughnessy said that the Government would bring forward amendments to extend the AMCP role further when the Bill reaches the House of Commons. He added: “Furthermore, we are determined to get the role of the AMCP right. We think it is necessary to go beyond specifying that those in independent hospitals can see an AMCP and to think of other cases as well, and we are intending to bring forward amendments at the Commons stages of the Bill.”

Proposed amendments include extending the range of cases to ones in which relatives were objecting to the arrangements, the cared-for person was prohibited from making contact with particular people or subject to high levels of restraint, the arrangements involved the administration or prescription of covert medication or treatment for a mental health disorder in hospital, or there were exceptional circumstances.

Another amendment proposed referring cases to AMCPs where there was a dispute between the responsible body and the pre-authorisation reviewer, where this was not an AMCP, and a third suggested requiring an AMCP referral where a care or health worker or loved one has informed the responsible body that the cared-for person was objecting to their arrangements. This was designed to support whistleblowers trying to raise concerns.

More information about the Bill and its progress is available at www.parliament.uk.

Last reviewed 5 December 2018

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