The second day of Committee stage before the House of Lords took place yesterday, 15 October. The transcript can be found here. As per my post on the first day, this post sets out the key matters addressed by Lord O’Shaughnessy, (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, DHSC) and Baroness Stedman-Scott in response to an extensive series of probing amendments put forward by peers. All the amendments debated on 15 October were withdrawn (or associated amendments not moved), so no changes were made to the Bill at this stage. Importantly, however, Lord O’Shaughnessy indicated at the start of the debate that the Government was proposing to address three issues upon which it had reflected between the two days of Committee stage “in respect of which there has been some progress.”
The first issue that was raised is extending the scope of the Bill to include 16 and 17 year-olds. I said in Committee that we would look at that and I can tell noble Lords that we will bring forward proposals to include that group in the scheme. I will also reflect on the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Thornton, Lady Finlay and Lady Barker, about the role of the cared-for person being front and centre. In fact, that was the one obligation to consult that was not translated from the Law Commission report into the Bill. Clearly, if we want to get the improvements that we want to see, it is essential that that person’s wishes and feelings about proposed arrangements be at the heart of the model, so we will ensure that the Bill reflects this.
As I said, we will make sure that the Bill reflects the need to consult the cared-for person. We have also taken on board the comments about the phrase “of sound mind”, which is used in one of the amendments later on. That is one reason why we might want to reconsider it. I know that there is a great concern that the language is inappropriate and that creating a new definition might create a gap, but, having looked at this further, we think we would be able to change this language and carry out various other work to reduce the gap to a minimum. That is something that we intend to bring forward, so I hope that that will be welcomed by many people.
Care home managers
As on the first day, probing amendments in relation to the role of care home managers occupied much of the time of peers. Lord O’Shaughnessy addressed their role at number of points, including making the following statements:
It is for that reason that I come to the role of the care home manager. That is obviously a critical role to avoid duplication and to ensure that cases that are relatively straightforward can be dealt with at a level that is close to the person being cared for, can be integrated into care planning without involving referrals upwards, even though there will continue to be reviews by responsible bodies and the opportunity for the AMCP to intervene where there is any cause for concern. To make sure that this is a manageable process, it is integrated into care planning. I still believe that that is the right model. We need to determine how this model can be developed and delivered in a way that overcomes the very many concerns, many of which I have sympathy with, that have been expressed in this debate and will I am sure be expressed this afternoon in other debates. The onus is on the Government to lead that process and put as many of those concerns to bed as possible while, as I have said, protecting the model because it gives us a way out of the duplication and backlog that we have now.
I want to address some specific issues raised in regard to care managers. For example, the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, and others raised the point about care home managers being responsible for arranging assessments but not generally for conducting them. In response to the question from the Baroness, Lady Barker, that will be the case for all assessments—DoLS assessments and assessments regarding care planning—and it will include determining whether arrangements are necessary and proportionate. However, although those managers have a responsibility to arrange the assessments, the Bill allows for them to be conducted by others involved in the person’s care and that those who are qualified must have a medical qualification or be suitably trained, as will be explained in the code of practice. So while there is that responsibility to arrange the assessments, those assessments will be carried out by somebody other than the care home manager, except in nursing homes, for example, which might be run by a nurse with a suitable qualification. It would be somebody with the appropriate training to ensure that whatever kind of assessment it is, it can be carried out properly.
I understand that that still leaves a small set of assessments which a care home manager could both arrange and carry out, because they had suitable training. If noble Lords are still concerned about the appropriateness of that kind of activity, I would be absolutely willing to discuss how we can minimise any concerns about conflicts of interest. However, as the noble Baroness, Lady Murphy, pointed out, such conflicts of interest happen all the time and we rely on regulation—
As the noble Baroness [Murphy] says, there are conflicts of interest of various kinds; the important point is that there are protections against any conflict of interest. Typically, those will be through the regulatory authorities, whether the professional bodies or the CQC, which of course inspects all care homes and has found that 80% of them provide good or outstanding care. I believe that there are systems within the current regulatory framework that will provide for that oversight and prevent conflicts of interest. There is also the fact that the responsible body will carry out the reviews and that there is an opportunity to refer to an AMCP.
We believe that case law does establish that suitably qualified people need to be appointed. Clearly that is something we need to continue to discuss to persuade the noble Baroness [Barker] that that is the case, but that is our understanding. As she pointed out, “suitably qualified” can include medical and other qualifications.
On care home managers’ capacity, they are of course carrying out some assessments. The intention is they will carry out more assessments. I agree with the noble Baroness on that point. The point that the noble Baronesses, Lady Barker and Lady Thornton, raised was about the capability and capacity of this group of people to carry out these roles. On our previous day in Committee I committed to explain how we would ensure that that group of people had the requisite training and skills to carry out these kinds of assessments.
The noble Baroness made a point about weakened accessed. I want to update the House on our thinking about making sure that the person is consulted. We are trying to create a more proportionate system such that, where all those concerned with the care of a person are content that the arrangements have been properly put in place, it does not need to be escalated and reviewed by an AMCP or similar person. The problem we have at the moment is that the system takes every decision to the highest possible level. This is not about weakening access but about trying to have a proportionate system and also about making sure—we will debate this further tonight—that at every stage there are the right opportunities to seek advocacy support and to refer concerns so that an AMCP or responsible body can intervene and review a case if necessary.
Unless we find a way to deliver a more proportionate system we will simply be re-enacting the system we have now, which is not working. This is why I am so keen to work with noble Lords to make sure that we can determine the proper role and responsibilities of, and checks and balances on, care home managers so that we can get the system right and deliver a reform that saves money, enables more people to have their cases reviewed and enables us to make sure that people are protected, which is what we want to do.
I say to the noble Lord [Lord Hunt], as I have said to all noble Lords from the beginning, that we are determined to reform the system so that it delivers what it ought to for people who are being deprived of their liberty. The Government believe that the care home manager, the person ultimately responsible for the care planning and delivery for individuals under their care, must have a central role in arranging assessments when someone has been deprived of their liberty.
I say to the Committee that, given that so much of the success of the Bill will revolve around our ability to define this role properly and to ensure that there are appropriate checks and balances and appropriate training so that it delivers the capacity and capability that noble Lords have talked about, I want to work with stakeholders and noble Lords to ensure that we can do that. I think that is both possible and desirable, but I also recognise that it is not something we have yet achieved. I hope that as we go through our deliberations today and next week, and as we look forward to Report, that is something that we will be able to deal with so that the consensus that the noble Lord talks about currently being absent is something that we can build. On that basis, I hope the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.
As the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, said, the issue of concern is the distinction between the person who is responsible for somebody’s care and the person who manages a care home—they are of course different. What we are trying to get right here—I understand that this is what the amendments are exploring—are the relevant responsibilities of those people, bearing in mind that we want to integrate liberty protection safeguards into the process of care planning.
The noble Baroness, Lady Barker, knows huge amounts about this topic and I very much respect her opinion. She pointed out that DoLS assessments are different from assessments under the Care Act. There are some overlaps. As she will know, there are similar questions or parts in both assessments concerning consent, for example, but she is right that they are different types of assessments. I want to explore whether her or indeed the Committee’s concern is that those assessments should not be carried out by care home managers or whether—a more positive view—they should be carried out by certain types of professional. Those are subtly different points. Perhaps I may give her the opportunity to respond in a moment, as I am really keen to explore this matter.
Clearly, we are trying to make sure that those who have the professional expertise to carry out certain types of assessments do so. Equally, we are trying to make sure that a co-ordinating body has responsibility for ensuring that these assessments are carried out in a proportionate way and are included with care assessments in an overall care plan, with people being answerable to the relevant regulatory bodies. If the noble Baroness would not mind, I would be grateful if she, along with other noble Lords, gave her perspective on that. I want to make sure that we determine the appropriate role of the care home manager.
[…], there are self-funders, those in local authority funded homes, those in homes funded by the NHS and so forth. In a sense, that is the point I was trying to make in the first group of amendments as I realise that we have not clarified that to a sufficient degree, so as to put people’s minds at ease that what we are proposing is appropriate and deals with people’s concerns, or exposes those concerns as being well-founded and then enables us to do something about it by the time we come back on Report.
I want to deal with the main issue raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Jolly, at the beginning of her comments, which is the subject of the amendment in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, and the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton. The amendment would clarify in the Bill that a pre-authorisation review cannot be completed by a care home manager, who would be excluded from such a role. I am happy to assure all noble Lords that the role of care home managers in the new system is to provide the statement to the responsible body and, where necessary, to arrange assessments—as we have discussed. Their role is not to authorise arrangements. It would not be appropriate for care home managers to complete pre-authorisation reviews. I assure the Committee that we will make sure that the Bill reflects this. I hope that is at least one brick in the road towards defining the proper role for care home managers. In these amendments we are discussing the degree of independence and making sure that we minimise conflicts of interest.
A later amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, and the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, specifies that the person who completes a pre-authorisation review should also be qualified as a medical practitioner, nurse, social worker, speech therapist, occupational therapist or other profession as may be specified in regulations. I assure noble Lords that we would expect people from those professions to take on this role. That will be specified in the code of practice.
There is also a specific requirement that the pre-authorisation review be completed by somebody not involved in the day-to-day care of the person or delivering treatment to them. That is another safeguard.
Amendments in the names of the noble Baronesses, Lady Jolly, Lady Thornton, Lady Murphy, Lady Barker and Lady Finlay, would make sure that smaller NHS bodies sought external people to carry out reviews. I understand the motivation behind them, but I am concerned that they would introduce complexity and lead to delays. The issue is resolvable within the system proposed because of the independence and quality of AMCPs, or approved mental capacity professionals—referred to the by noble Baronesses, Lady Murphy and Lady Finlay. They will consider all applications to authorise a deprivation of liberty where it is reasonable to believe that the person objects to proposed arrangements, or in other complex cases. Reflecting on a point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, we may need to provide more detail and studies of the kind of cases that we are talking about or envisaging, where an AMCP would be involved in the review. I take very seriously the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, about the consequence of that, given that the responsible body will have the legal duty to ensure that it is carried out properly. I find that reassuring because it will not be a tick-box exercise: it will need to make sure that the assessments have been carried out properly. That was one of the questions put by the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, when she asked about the access of the responsible body to such assessments. It will mean that that body will probably err on the side of caution, but it will also mean that we will have a more proportionate system than we do now. That is to be welcomed. Those AMCPs, as has been pointed out, could be salaried professionals within a local authority; they might even be close to commissioners, but their role will be independent, just as best-interests assessors are independent, and they will be responsible to their own professional bodies. That is something in the system on which we can rely.
The noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, and other noble Lords mentioned advocacy, and I know that we will be turning to that later. It is important to state—not only as I did at the beginning of the first group about making sure that the person involved is properly consulted—that they have the right to request a review, that they have access to representation from an independent mental capacity advocate or another appropriate person, and that ultimately those responsible for their welfare and care can challenge the authorisation in the Court of Protection.
I know that there are a couple of outstanding issues. The noble Baroness, Lady Jolly, asked if we could look at fee levels and that is certainly something that I will look at. The noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, asked how IMCAs are paid for. That is currently allowed for in the Mental Capacity Act and that is not changed by this Bill, but I will write to her to clarify that.
I hope that this response—particularly about the role that care home managers will not play in preauthorisation reviews—provides reassurance that we are conscious of the need to provide that independence in the system to reduce, and indeed remove, conflicts of interest and perceptions of conflict of interest wherever possible. As ever, as has been the theme of today, I continue to want to work with all noble Lords to ensure that we determine that the system, which still has great merit, is able to respond both to the needs of the people who are being cared for and to any concerns on behalf of those people from their families and stakeholders that there are conflicts of interest. I believe that the pieces of the puzzle are coming together, but I am conscious that we need to continue working together to complete it. On that basis, I hope the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment. I look forward to further discussions on this topic to make sure that we are able to introduce as much independence as possible into the system.
Provision of written information
I hope that in responding to these amendments I will be able to show further that we are taking a positive and constructive view on improving the Bill, making sure not that it removes rights but quite the opposite—that it provides access to liberty-protection safeguards for people who do not currently enjoy them.
I begin by thanking the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, for leading the debate and I also thank other noble Lords. I shall go directly to her Amendment 17. Of course she is right, as are other noble Lords, about the arrangements for the cared-for person—person P—being written. I am very happy to confirm to all noble Lords that that is our intention and that we will make sure that the Bill reflects it.
With regard to other amendments, the entire thrust of policy across government, whether in health and care or anything to do with data, is about providing more people with the information that the state holds about them. I can give the absolute commitment to noble Lords that that is what we intend to do in the Bill and in changes that we make to the Bill going forward. It is essential that cared-for persons, their families, appropriate persons, IMCAs and so on are given full information about their authorisation and their relevant rights, including their rights to review and appeal. I can tell noble Lords that that will be set out fully in the code of practice.
On the code of practice—I can see the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, grimace—I will say two things. First, it is a statutory code of practice involving a consultation arrangement and a laying before Parliament—noble Lords know how these things work. The noble Baroness asked about the force of the code of practice and it is true that the Bill says “have regard to”. But case law confirms—I am happy to write to noble Lords with this opinion—that the code of practice must be followed unless there are cogent reasons not to do so. That means that there will be some occasions when the code is not practised, but those not following it will have to justify, potentially in court, why they did so in the interests of a person’s care. So the code of practice is statutory and it has very great force. It is worth pointing that out, not least because on this group and future groups we will be talking about information or an instruction that will be within the code of practice. I will take the opportunity to make that clear at this point.
On the point about access to information, I think that two other aspects are worth considering. One is that under the general data protection regulation, which came in on 25 May this year, the cared-for person or their family, IMCA or somebody holding a lasting power of attorney—that is, somebody acting on their behalf—will, and indeed does, have access to their authorisation record. I believe, although I will clarify, that that has to be done free of charge. I know that that is certainly the case with medical records and GPs. In terms of access to information, that is an important advance.
Again, I want to get further clarification on exactly what is involved, but the NHS and the LGA have created a programme of local health and care record exemplars. It happens in a few parts of the country and it is about creating a single health and care record that contains all the information about a person’s health and care. Obviously it spans both health and care settings. That will be available not only to inform the care carried out by a clinician or someone in a caring role but information to that person and those with responsibility for them.
That obviously has huge implications for improving joined-up care. It is an important programme by which we set a lot of store. What I will take away from this discussion is the need to ensure that what we are describing here, around access to information by the cared-for person or by those caring for them, ensures that they will have access to the local health and care record, which would contain the kind of information we are talking about. If it does, we have a vehicle; if it does not, we need to think about what the right vehicle is.
The amendments in this group also support the IMCA to help the cared-for person understand their rights under liberty protection safeguards. I can confirm that this will be a key role for the IMCA. It will be defined in their job description and, again, contained in the code of practice.
Once again, we have already made changes, and are committing to changes in the Bill, that will deal with the questions raised about access to information. I absolutely concur with the sentiment behind the questions. There is good reason to believe that expanding programmes and mechanisms in the system will give us the opportunity to do that, and in a much more thorough way than is done now. I want to continue to work with noble Lords to make sure that we get that right as we move towards Report, so that it is properly reflected in the Bill. I hope that, on the basis of my comments and reassurances, the noble Lord, Lord Touhig, will feel a little less despairing and the noble Baroness will be prepared to withdraw her amendment.
Definition of deprivation of liberty
[…] I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, for continuing to make sure that we grapple with the most difficult questions, as the noble Baronesses, Lady Murphy, Lady Barker and Lady Thornton, have enjoined us to do. It must be right that we at least give it a go while recognising that this is a challenging topic.
The amendments of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, are about restricting liberty protection safeguards to certain circumstances where physical restrictions are imposed, and outline the liberty in which the feelings of the cared-for person should be protected. Her intent was not to provide that definition but to provide a platform for us to have a discussion about the definition. We have been strongly encouraged by the Joint Committee on Human Rights to do so and, as I said in our previous discussion on this topic, we are considering the Joint Committee’s findings very closely.
I sense, and have sensed throughout, that there is a desire among noble Lords to provide such a statutory definition within the Bill. Obviously there are huge benefits for doing so. It would provide clarity; the noble Baroness, Lady Murphy, mentioned avoiding a postcode lottery; and families, professionals and the people themselves would benefit. There are compelling arguments for it. At the same time, we are weighing it against the safeguards that cared-for people need and ensuring that we comply with our obligations under the ECHR.
We obviously have not got there yet—no one is suggesting that we have—but I want to use this spirit of determination and problem solving to see whether we can get to that point—hopefully by Report. It is a topic for a longer discussion, which does not need to be in this Chamber, but we have to recognise that there is not a consensus among stakeholders. That is a challenge. We need to consider whether we can bring the entire disparate community along with us, otherwise we will have a problem and not solve the challenges we are dealing with.
I will commit to all noble Lords to see whether we can get to that point. There is a hierarchy about the ways in which we can achieve it—in the Bill, through regulation or through a statutory code of practice—but at the very least we should make a determined endeavour to do it. So I am happy to give that commitment. As noble Lords would expect, the Government have been working hard on this. We would like to share our thinking with noble Lords and start to build that consensus in the House and beyond to see whether we can get to that point. I hope that will give noble Lords the reassurances they are looking for.
On the substance of the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Murphy [in fact Finlay], that depriving a person of their liberty in emergency and interim cases should benefit the person and that that deprivation, life-saving treatment or doing a vital act cannot be done without depriving a person of their liberty, the Bill already states that steps depriving a person of their liberty must be necessary in order to give life-sustaining treatment, and the Mental Capacity Act requires that such steps must be in a person’s best interests. So that reassurance is there.
I am very grateful to all noble Lords for tabling amendments on this very important topic of making sure that when these decisions are made and the assessments of them carried out that they are done on the best possible evidence. That informs all the amendments in this group.
We have talked already about the role of the care home manager in arranging assessments and providing a statement to the local authority while the assessment is conducted by a suitably qualified professional. Clearly we will explore that further following the debate tonight. It is also clear that in many cases care home managers will be using assessments that have already been conducted, wherever possible, ensuring that we reduce duplication. There is clearly a balance between making sure that we have access to the best possible information and not creating extra burdens on the system to duplicate work where a previous assessment would be useful, up to date and valid.
I will deal with the amendments in turn and try to think about how we can get that balance. Amendment 21 in the names of the noble Baronesses, Lady Barker and Lady Jolly, would remove the ability of care home managers to rely on previous medical and capacity assessments. It would mean that assessments could be relied on only if responsible bodies judged it appropriate. Our belief is that where valid assessments are already in place and have been completed by a suitably qualified professional—such as those completed as part of a care plan—they should be used. We are concerned about the implications of the amendments in this group because of the duplication that could arise, particularly perhaps if there is a difference between assessments and each person who carried out the work is still of the view that their judgment was the correct one. We need to be concerned about that as we are trying to simplify the system.
We also do not believe it would be proportionate to expect care home managers to seek permission from a responsible body on every case where there is a previous or equivalent assessment, especially when it is clear for example that somebody has a lifelong diagnosis such as a learning disability and a previous assessment can be reasonably expected to provide valid and reliable evidence of this.
I understand the intention of the noble Baronesses in wanting to avoid care home managers relying on previous assessments when it is not appropriate to do so, which I think is what has informed these amendments. That is where the responsible body reviewing is incredibly important. Generally speaking it will be a senior social worker who will be able to examine the case and if there is an overreliance on past—particularly quite long-dated—assessments in that statement, it will be a flag for escalation to the AMCP.
I understand why there is concern about giving too much leeway to the care home manager, but I also think the amendment would deliver a disproportionate system. It would not provide the degree of flexibility we want and therefore we intend to outline the appropriate use of previous assessments in the code of practice. I think that that is the appropriate vehicle.
Amendment 22 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, seeks to ensure that medical assessments are completed by a registered medical practitioner. Clearly our intention is that that should be the case, and that the person who conducts the medical assessment must be suitably competent. I use that word rather than “qualified” and we will set out further detail in the code of practice. As was stated by the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, and others, human rights case law already requires that a deprivation of liberty must be based on objective medical expertise. That can be done on a competence basis rather than on qualifications. Qualifications change whereas competencies, by and large, remain the same. That is why we will focus on a competence-based approach rather than listing professions in a code of practice. A code of practice gives us the ability to exemplify the kind of competencies we mean without being restricted, which would be the case if it were in the Bill, to only certain categories of worker, which might change over time.
Amendment 23 in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, and the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, creates a duty under liberty protection safeguards to assess whether steps to establish supported decision-making are practical. As I am sure noble Lords know, supported decision-making is already part of the law, and indeed it is the second principle of the Mental Capacity Act. Perhaps one of the reasons that this amendment has come forward is that this is an amendment Bill and therefore there can be a dislocation sometimes between what we are considering and the wider context.
It is already the case that steps should be taken to support people to make their own decisions. We have not brought forward the Law Commission’s recommendation to set up a formal supported decision-making scheme because that legal entitlement already exists. Wherever possible, of course, people should make decisions for themselves and be supported to do so. However, as I say, the second principle of the Mental Capacity Act provides that legal force and in the code of practice we will set out the guidance about how that should work in principle.
The noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, introduced Amendment 24, which describes the process of how someone should be deprived of their liberty. It was helpful for her to refer to the NICE guidance on this. We have already talked tonight about a written record—I think that goes some way—and the basis on which it is shared, which is also important. I will provide more detail on that. The concern about the way that this has been framed is that it is too specific to be in the Bill and the process and the terms may change over time. Although I am sympathetic to the idea that there needs to be clarity about what the appropriate process is, that is best done in the code of practice rather than in the Bill.
The noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, introduced Amendments 24A, 24B and 24C. I need to reflect further on the implication of these amendments because the way she described them was perhaps not how we had previously interpreted them. My only concern is that one of the effects might be that only responsible bodies could decide to rely on previous assessments, because she has taken care home managers out.
Amendment 25 from the noble Baronesses, Lady Barker and Lady Jolly, would require the care home manager or responsible body to have regard to any change in a person’s circumstances when seeking to rely on a previous or equivalent capacity or medical assessment. I agree with the intention of the amendment, which is to ensure that before relying on a previous or equivalent medical or capacity assessment proper consideration is given to whether it is reasonable to rely on it. The Bill allows for this already. Such an assessment can be used only if it appears to be reasonable to rely on it. As we have said, responsible bodies when reviewing such statements are obviously legally liable for making sure that the reasonableness test is carried out. Again, we will provide more detail in the code of practice about where it is reasonable to rely on an assessment.
The noble Baroness talked about the difference between condition and circumstances, or the complementary nature of the two. If circumstances change and this affects a person’s capacity or diagnosis, it would also need to be considered before relying on previous or equivalent assessments. We are reflecting at the moment on whether the Bill as drafted achieves our aim here. So this is a topic for a further conversation to make sure that we can get the appropriate balance in this area without introducing too many additional terms that might in themselves provide greater unclarity—which of course is something we are trying to avoid.
Amendment 30 deals with less restrictive arrangements. This is a principle of the Mental Capacity Act and the Bill makes no change to it. Again, we will provide more detail in the code of practice as to how the new model will work in the wider health and care system, including the Mental Capacity Act and the Care Act.
That brings me, at last, to Amendment 50ZA, introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt. I think that its aim is to ensure that the pre-authorisation review is completed by a qualified person, as set out in regulations. As I said, under the current DoLS system, applications will often be reviewed by a senior social worker. We absolutely expect this to remain the case where the local authority is the responsible body. Where a hospital trust, CCG or local heath board is the responsible body, we would expect this role to be conducted by a medical professional. Again, that will be clarified in the code of practice. That is the appropriate mechanism for it, for the reasons I gave: descriptions and qualifications change over time. However, as I also said, since the code of practice will be statutory that will give it force, as will case law.
On that basis, I hope that I have dealt as thoroughly as I can with the substance of all the amendments in the group. Clearly, we want to make sure that the evidence is as good as possible when making these very important and serious decisions. As I said, in this instance the code of practice is a good vehicle for much of this work. On that basis, I hope noble Lords will not press their amendments.
My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have laid these amendments and contributed to this debate. The issue of training has obviously had a high profile in our discussions, from Second Reading onwards. I think we are all agreed that we can move to the system we want only if the people involved in delivering it have, in the previous words of the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, the capacity and capability to do so. Again, I would like to deal with these amendments in groups and with other issues mentioned in the debate as they arise.
Amendments 60, 61 and 61A, tabled by the noble Baronesses, Lady Barker and Lady Finlay, would require local authorities to appoint a named officer responsible for the training, conduct and performance of approved mental capacity professionals and would give the Government regulation-making powers to prescribe the period of time within which an individual must be reapproved to continue to practise as one. The Bill is already clear that local authorities have the responsibility of approving individuals to become approved mental capacity professionals; subsequent regulations will make provision for training and eligibility for approval. Of course, this will build on the existing best interests assessor system that has been referred to, and which I believe is generally held in high regard.
The regulations will allow for a prescribed body to specify their training; in England, this is expected to be undertaken by Social Work England—the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, raised a question on that. However, the local authority will clearly need to monitor the post-education training, conduct and performance of approved mental capacity professionals in order for such a professional’s approval to be continued. It is correct that we have not set out in the Bill how this should operate. The reason for that is to allow local authorities to decide for themselves how to organise and manage it, assisted, where relevant, by the code of practice.
With regard to the reapproval of AMCPs and in regard to Amendment 62, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, we do not think it is necessary for the Government to give themselves this regulatory power to prescribe timeframes. Instead, it can be set out in the code of practice, which again is suitable for something as specific as this.
Many noble Lords, led on their amendments by the noble Baronesses, Lady Hollins and Lady Jolly, highlighted that, as we know, a huge amount of work will be required in the health and social care sector to implement the new system. Amendment 91, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, would require the Government to publish a training strategy. This does not in my view need to be set out in the Bill, but I can give a commitment this evening that a training strategy will be published within six months of the Bill’s passing.
Amendment 90, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Jolly, would give the Government regulation-making powers to prescribe the body responsible for training care home staff. Clearly, we will need to have and are committed to providing the necessary training to care home managers for their new role. That will include developing a range of training materials, co-produced of course with the sector, and other support for a range of roles in the workforce. We will be providing our statutory code of practice and other guidance to do that. We are already working with the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services to help shape this work. We are also beginning to explore a comprehensive programme of work on supporting this model by working with Health Education England, Skills for Care, the Social Care Institute for Excellence, the royal colleges and others. It is clearly important that we work with all providers to ensure that we have the right training strategy and deliver it through training providers endorsed by Skills for Care, which is the Health Education England-like body for social care, as noble Lords know.
We of course recognise that there is a cost to the sector. The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, asked about the half a day’s training. We clearly recognise that more training than that is required. The noble Baroness, Lady Barker, asked about some of our assumptions on the 10% and I will come to her with more detail on the reasoning for that. In a regulatory impact assessment, it is always the case that you produce a version of what you think might happen. The reality will no doubt be somewhat different, but we recognise that there will be a cost for the sector to prepare to implement this new system, once it comes into being.
We are therefore considering what is called a workforce development model to ensure that that training is of high quality. This would allow us to provide financial help to providers to assist with training and events. The fund is flexible and would enable employers to support their staff, not least in providing backfill for them while they undertake training. It could also be used to pay for an instructor to conduct the training. I know that there is a desire to understand more not just about training but about how we will fund it. I can reassure noble Lords that there will of course be a comprehensive and properly resourced training programme in place.
I do not believe that regulation-making powers or details are required in the Bill, but I also recognise that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. As we have discussed since Second Reading, noble Lords will want to see much more detail about our intentions in this regard. What I can say is that I will do everything I can to facilitate that development, so that there can be the right degree of confidence that the training programme and its funding will be forthcoming to support the implementation of the new system.
Noble Lords raised a few other issues in the discussion. The noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, said that we need greater clarity on the roles of various people. I think we covered that in our earlier discussion of care home managers. The noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, made an excellent point about making sure that training includes the skills to work with working-age adults with learning difficulties. Using those people and their families to co-produce training is also an absolutely excellent idea, which I would like to take up with her.
Perhaps I may deal with two other issues. First, the noble Baroness, Lady Murphy, talked about cultural change. Training can help but of course it does not deliver a cultural change. We have to think carefully as we go forward about the other levers that exist to any Government to provide that cultural change that go beyond the standard ways of doing things. I would be interested in pursuing that discussion with noble Lords outside the Chamber.
Secondly, the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, asked about cost shift. There will clearly be a redistribution of responsibility, but the intention of these changes is that they should deliver a system that not only delivers justice to people who are currently denied it but does so in an affordable way, moving funding away from duplication and complexity towards greater caring. The intention of the Bill is not to rob Peter to pay Paul, as it were, but to ensure that there is a properly resourced and deliverable system and that its different parts are trained and capable and have the capacity to deliver the responsibilities that we are asking them to fulfil.
On that basis, I again thank noble Lords for a very useful discussion. There is clearly more detail that we can and will want to provide as the Bill progresses. I hope that noble Lords will feel content not to press their amendments.
AMCP involvement and access to the Court of Protection
[Response by Baroness Stedman-Scott]
The amendments from the noble Baronesses, Lady Thornton, Lady Jolly and Lady Finlay, would have the effect of requiring that, in each and every case referred to an approved mental capacity professional, the AMCP would have to explicitly consider whether the case should be referred to the Court of Protection. We are clear that if a person wants to challenge their authorisation in the Court of Protection they have the right to do so. However, part of the reason we are creating the approved mental capacity professional role is so that cases where the person is objecting to the proposed arrangements can be considered outside having to go court, which we expect to be in line with the people’s wishes. It is always good to remind ourselves—as has been done many times during today’s business—of what we are trying to achieve and what we are trying to avoid. If we can avoid going to court, as has already been said, but serve people well, then we will have achieved something.
I am conscious that we do not want to create a situation where approved mental capacity professionals defer their responsibility to the Court of Protection and individuals have to undergo court procedures unnecessarily, particularly as we know this can be burdensome for people. In the short debate about this group of amendments, we have all agreed that we should avoid court at all costs, not only fiscally but because of the burden, stress and blockages that it puts into the system. However, I would like to reassure noble Lords that the responsible body has a responsibility to ensure that individuals who want to bring a challenge, in line with their Article 5 rights, have access to the Court of Protection, and the approved mental capacity professional would be important in identifying where this will be the case.
The amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, would have the effect of requiring the approved mental capacity professional to meet with the cared-for person unless there is agreement with consulted persons that it is not necessary or appropriate to do so. We are clear that our intention is for approved mental capacity professionals to meet with the cared-for persons in almost all cases. Exceptions would be extreme circumstances, such as if the cared-for person is in a coma or clearly expresses a wish that they do not wish to meet with the approved mental capacity professional. I am sure that noble Lords agree that in these exceptional cases it is right that the approved mental capacity professionals do not meet the person.
To reflect this, we have imposed a duty to meet the person where it appears to the approved mental capacity professionals to be appropriate and practical to do so. I understand that the intention of the amendment is to limit the circumstances in which an approved mental capacity professional does not meet with the cared-for person. However, I am conscious that there could be situations—for example, where the AMCP and all consultees bar one agree that it was not necessary or appropriate to meet the person. However, if one consultee did not agree, it would mean that one consultee would effectively have a veto and the AMCP would be required to meet the person. We will ensure that guidance regarding that rare circumstance where it is not practical and appropriate is included in the code of practice.
The amendment of the noble Baronesses, Lady Barker and Lady Hollins, and the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, requires the person completing the pre-authorisation review, where this is not an approved mental capacity professional, to meet with the cared-for person regardless of whether this is appropriate or practical.
We will ensure that guidance regarding the rare circumstances where it is not practical or appropriate is included in the code of practice. The amendment tabled by the noble Baronesses, Lady Barker and Lady Hollins, and the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, requires the person who completes the pre-authorisation review, where they are not an approved mental capacity professional, to meet with the cared-for person regardless of whether it is appropriate or practical.
We appreciate that there may be circumstances where it is appropriate for the reviewer to meet the person, and the Bill does not prevent this happening. Indeed, in some cases it would be our expectation that this would happen, and further detail on this will be provided in the code of practice. However, in many cases the circumstances will be straightforward. For example, where someone consented to be in a care home but subsequently lost capacity, a meeting with the cared-for person would not challenge the outcome and it would not be proportionate to require that person to undergo the process again. The Bill provides that, prior to an application being authorised, it must first be reviewed by somebody who is not involved in the day-to-day care and treatment of the cared-for person. Where this is not an AMCP, the person who completes this review must review the information and determine whether it is reasonable for the responsible body to conclude that the authorisation conditions are met.
DoLS leads in local authorities have told us that they are already giving a great deal of thought to what they will need to see to be satisfied that the conditions are met for a liberty protection safeguards authorisation. We would do well to wait and see what the detail of that is. We will set out further guidance on this matter in the code of practice, but it is not right to require on the face of the Bill the reviewer to meet the cared-for person in every case. The Bill carefully balances the requirements necessary for authorisations across all the people involved: the cared-for person, their carers and their families, along with the healthcare workforce.
I now have a piece of paper, so I can tell the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, that, yes, it is automatic for the AMCP to meet the person. The AMCP makes the decision on whether it is or is not appropriate or proportionate, which I believe I said earlier. Also, the noble Baroness, Lady Jolly, has made sure that we understand that what is important in this are the rights of the individual. Those are at the heart of what we are doing. She was particularly concerned about people in care homes. The system that we are bringing forward and trying to fine-tune will certainly make sure that they are given the due consideration they need. I will not repeat the points that have been made about going to court, which incurs all manner of personal and fiscal costs as well as bureaucratic costs. An appeal to the court on these things should be a last resort, because I agree completely with the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, that such action would mean that there has been a failure in the system, which is something that we are desperately trying to avoid.
I hope that I have answered all the questions, but I know that noble Lords will tell me if I have not. On that basis, I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.
Wishes and feelings
[Response by Baroness Stedman-Scott]
I thank all noble Lords for their important contributions to these amendments. I agree completely with the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, about the importance of ascertaining the cared-for person’s wishes and feelings when consulting as part of the liberty protection safeguards processes. Sometimes it is more important to listen to what is not said or expressed over and above that which is said. Watching people’s behaviour and demeanour can tell us a lot about how they are feeling. The noble Baroness, Lady Watkins, gave us a good example of somebody who lost their parents and was terribly distraught about it, although what was causing him most angst was being able to see his sister only for short periods because of the distance travelled. We must make sure, in taking through this Bill, that we do everything we can to read those signs and that people are empowered to make the best decisions.
On care home managers completing the consultation and how we ensure that alternatives are considered, I can say to the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, that a wide range of people are consulted. Previous consultations conducted by professionals often relied on things that were not meaningful or in the best interest of the individual. We want the least restrictive as a principle—a requirement of Article 5 in case law—that must be considered and will be set out in the code of practice. The code of practice will be very important.
I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, that the care home manager would consider whether a decision was appropriate and the decision would be reviewed by the responsible body. Any family member, IMCA or appropriate person could challenge a decision not to consult the cared-for person. The Government are committed to making sure that the consultation around the cared-for individual is at the heart of everything. We must move heaven and earth to make sure that we understand exactly what they want and that the consultation is respectful in every way.
The Bill already outlines that the main purpose of the consultation is to ascertain the cared-for person’s wishes and feelings. This is to ensure that the liberty protection safeguards are consistent with the focus of the rest of the Mental Capacity Act, which places the wishes and feelings of the person, even if they lack capacity, at the heart of the process.
The noble Baroness is also right to highlight the importance of considering the impact of the arrangements on the person’s well-being. Similarly, we are also clear that we expect the impact of the arrangements on the person to be addressed when undertaking consultation. However, the purpose of the consultation would be to consider the impact from the person’s point of view. This is crucial to how the Mental Capacity Act works.
The concept of well-being is not mentioned in the Mental Capacity Act. It is a legal concept which has particular meaning under the Care Act and the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act. We are concerned that it would cause confusion if this concept were inserted into the liberty protection safeguards.
However, the liberty protection safeguards will be in place to support living and will be positive for a person’s well-being. The accompanying code of practice will outline how the model works within wider care provision, including the Care Act, which has duties in relation to promoting well-being.
The amendment in the name of the noble Baronesses, Lady Hollins and Lady Finlay, explicitly requires that the cared-for person be consulted. Noble Lords raised this issue on our previous day in Committee and I know that there is enthusiasm for this proposal, as it is felt that it will more clearly place the person at the centre of the determination of their wishes and feelings.
The Government have also heard very clearly that noble Lords felt that the person themselves must be consulted. Again, I agree. If we are to secure the improvements that we want, it is essential that the person and their voice, wishes and feelings about any proposed arrangements are placed at the heart of this model. We will make sure that the Bill reflects this. I am grateful for the expert views of noble Lords in helping to improve the Bill to put this beyond doubt.
I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, and the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, that it is important for those deciding whether an authorisation for deprivation of liberty should be given to consider whether any less restrictive options are available. Considering less restrictive alternatives is also an important aspect of the wider Mental Capacity Act. For example, the fifth principle of the Act requires decision-makers to have regard to less restrictive options. Nothing in the Bill changes this. The code of practice will set out how the liberty protection safeguards will work within the wider framework of the Mental Capacity Act and the care landscapes more widely.
Respectfully, therefore, I maintain that there is no need to add the words suggested by the amendments because they already form an integral part of the assessment process. We have made clear that the main purpose of the consultation duty is to ascertain the person’s wishes and feelings in relation to the authorisation, and this can include the person’s views about acceptable levels of restrictions.
For example, a person might wish to receive care in a care home where they have freedom to spend time in the community rather than in a care home where there is less freedom to do this. This might be because the conditions are less restrictive. This is an essential part of the liberty protection safeguards and is delivered through the assessment process. The noble Lord, Lord Touhig, made a very valid point when he asked whether we would want this for us. We must make sure that we treat people and respect them in the way we would like to be treated and respected ourselves.
I hope I have been able to provide a satisfactory explanation, but if there are outstanding concerns, I am happy to discuss them further. I trust that the noble Baroness will be able to withdraw her amendment.
Independence, harm to others and consultation with others
[…] I pick up the point about independence in the system, and have always been of the view that when you have situations like this, some independence is greatly helpful. Without wishing to make you laugh or belittle what we are trying to do, I say that I have just spent some time in the States and was subject to the awful rigours of President Trump and the Kavanaugh situation. I can tell you there was no independence there whatsoever. So I am absolutely at one with all noble Lords about independence when making judgments and trying to help people improve their lives.
I think the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, made a terribly important point. Where somebody is having something explained to them and does not feel comfortable objecting, or feels the environment is not right—I doubt there is one of us who has not been in that position at one time—it is horrible. We have to make sure the environment is correct and healthy for people to do so.
I think the points the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, made, in referring back to the evening exam question asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton—how do people know?—have to be answered. I take on board the point raised and think we must get to the bottom of that. However, I can tell you that approximately 30% of people do object to their DoLS review, if that is helpful. Also, the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, raised an important point about evidence base. In a job once, someone wanted me to get the evidence for what we thought we were doing, and I was terribly nervous about it because I thought I would be out of a job. Actually, when we got an independent group in to look at it, we were just blown away by the evidence, which you could not argue with. I know it is costly to gather evidence, and I have no idea if it is practical or realistic here, but I have no doubt the case will be stronger one way or the other for having some evidence. The noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, made numerous excellent points today, but the independence and the review is what is resonating in my mind. I am glad to confirm to the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, that harm to others is included.
The amendments from the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, and the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, would mean that the referral to an approved mental capacity professional would also be required in the following circumstances: if any person interested in the person’s welfare does not wish them to receive treatment at the place, if any other person interested in the person’s welfare makes a request, or if there is reason to believe that an approved mental capacity professional should carry out the review. I am assured that the Bill is already explicit—where it is reasonable to believe that the cared-for person does not wish to reside or receive care or treatment at a place, an approved mental capacity professional must consider their arrangements. If an objection is made on the person’s behalf by a family member of the person or someone who is interested in their welfare, we would generally consider this to constitute a reasonable objection. We will provide detail—including examples—of when an approved mental capacity professional should complete a review in the code of practice. We plan to set out in detail where this would apply in the code of practice but will include complex cases such as arrangements proposed for people with acquired brain injuries, and people in independent hospitals receiving mental health treatment.
While I understand the intention of the amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, the effect would be that any objection by any person with an interest in the person’s welfare would trigger a referral to an approved mental capacity professional. In short, this would mean that anyone could trigger a referral. An acquaintance from social media or a distant relative would be able to raise an objection. While this might be appropriate in some cases, there may be others where it would not represent the person’s wishes and feelings. As currently written, the amendment would undermine the purpose of the duty, which is to ensure that the views of the person are central to the process. I am sure that noble Lords agree that a focus on the views of the cared-for person is vital. That is why the Government have made this core to the new model.
The amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, would require a referral to an AMCP when others have expressed concerns, when an authorisation is being justified because of risk to others, or when the arrangements involve restrictions on contact with named persons. I thank her for raising these points and we will consider this carefully for the code of protection. I also hope I can provide reassurance that the Bill only enables authorisation of arrangements that give rise to a deprivation of liberty necessary for the purpose of receiving care or treatment. We would not ordinarily expect the liberty protection safeguards to be used to authorise a restriction on contact and we will make this clear in the code of practice. I am also sure that the noble Baroness is aware that risk to others is being considered as part of the Mental Health Act review.
The noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, wants to ensure that an AMCP conducts the pre-authorisation review for everyone in an independent hospital receiving a mental health assessment or treatment. I am sympathetic to this and wish to consider the matter. Such cases should be referred to an AMCP. Detail of this will be provided in the code of practice.
We have tried to respond to all the points made by noble Lords this evening, but there is more to do. If it is acceptable to your Lordships, we should carry on talking about these issues. The Government are absolutely committed to doing this. On that basis, I hope that I may have passed the exam set by the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, and that the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, will be able to withdraw her amendment.
I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, for initiating this discussion. Clearly the purpose of her amendments is to make sure that an authorisation cannot be renewed if it wholly or in part ceases to have effect. In some cases, an authorisation will not be renewed if in part it is no longer valid, but there might be other cases where minor changes to the restrictions are needed and that should not prevent an authorisation being renewed. We want to provide further detail in the code of practice and I would appreciate the opportunity to work on that with her.
The noble Baroness has also tabled amendments outlining that authorisation records should detail when arrangements are not authorised or if they are authorised with conditions, and that in care home cases responsible bodies should consider other relevant information, as well as information provided by the care home manager. I can tell her that in some cases if arrangements are not authorised, it might be useful to include them in the authorisation record. However, given the debate that we had on the previous grouping about the general trend towards the inclusion of data or information within records that are then made available to patients, their families and so on, I want to reflect on whether they should always be included and I will come back to that on Report.
The Bill allows the responsible bodies to consider information other than that provided by the care home manager, and further detail on the circumstances and kinds of information will be provided in the code of practice. On that basis, I hope that the noble Baroness is reassured and will feel able to withdraw her amendment.
We have had a discussion about the issues under consideration here, which are in some ways prompted by the experience of the Gard family and their son Charlie; we are all aware of the tragic circumstances at the end of his life. We agree with the noble Baroness and my noble and learned friend that these are incredibly important issues, and we are grateful to them for tabling the amendment. However, I think this would be best pursued outside of the confines of the Bill. I give her my commitment to do that; I am keen to work with her and with all noble Lords who have a particular interest in this issue, to ensure we come to the right conclusion. On that basis, I am sure she will withdraw the amendment.
There will be at least one further day of committee stage, on 22 October; the easiest place to keep abreast of amendments is this page here.