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MPs call for investigation into how psychiatric patients are being detained

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f5135 (Published 15 August 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f5135

Re: MPs call for investigation into how psychiatric patients are being detained

Dear Madam

Gould suggests the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) were designed to protect vulnerable patients.(1) This is not so.

The DoLS do not allow clinicians or carers to do anything in a patient's best interests that they could not have done under existing legislation. Furthermore, they do not provide patients with any additional safeguards in terms of statutory second opinions or independent tribunals.

The sole purpose of DoLS is to ensure hospitals and care homes are compliant with Article 5 of the Human Rights Act 1998, which states "No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the lawful detention of persons of unsound mind, in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law."(2) Although the existing Mental Capacity Act provided for legal detention, there was no clearly defined procedure for this.

So the "safeguards", with their six statutory forms, stand simply to protect local authorities, NHS trusts and other institutions from prosecution. This may not be unreasonable, but let us not pretend that protection of the vulnerable was the aim.

I remain, Madam, your obedient servant,

Dr Rich Braithwaite
Consultant Psychiatrist

Isle of Wight NHS Trust
St Mary's Hospital
Newport
Isle of Wight
PO30 5TG

1. Gould M. MPs call for investigation into how psychiatric patients are detained. BMJ 2013;347:f5135

2. Humans Rights Act 1998 c42. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/42/contents

Competing interests: RB has received payments for assessing patients under the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.

24 August 2013
Richard Braithwaite
Consultant Psychiatrist
Isle of Wight NHS Trust
St Mary's Hospital, Newport, Isle of Wight PO30 5TG