Vulnerable Wigan people left in limbo waiting for applications to be processed

Vulnerable Wigan people are having to wait longer for applications from carers to make decisions on their behalf, figures show, with one person left in limbo for over two years.

Friday, 10th September 2021, 11:05 am
Updated Friday, 10th September 2021, 11:06 am
Mental health charity Mind described the wait for applications as “disgraceful”

Vulnerable Wigan people are having to wait longer for applications from carers to make decisions on their behalf, figures show, with one person left in limbo for over two years.

Mental health charity Mind said it is “disgraceful” that anyone in the country should be forced to wait a year or more for their application to be processed.

Hospitals and care homes must apply to councils for Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards to make decisions for anyone thought to lack the mental capacity to do so themselves, such as those with dementia or serious mental health problems. There is a legal maximum time limit of 21 days for applications to be processed.

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But NHS Digital data shows Wigan Council completed 2,390 applications in 2020-21, with each one taking 71 days on average: up from a 66-day average the year before

Only around eight per cent of the 545 standard applications completed last year were processed within the target time. And one application took 897 days to be finalised.

Sharon Barber, director of community services said: “Wigan Council prides itself on keeping people safe and remains focused on improving this area of assessment. Our social care teams, like many across the country, have experienced challenges and demand as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Plans are in place to prioritise our work with vulnerable people and we are preparing for the introduction of liberty protection safeguards, which will eventually replace deprivation of liberty safeguards.

“This is a national issue and is not unique to Wigan borough but through partnership working, we continue to find ways we can improve the service. We have also identified additional funding to enable us to manage demand in an effective and timely way. We remain committed to supporting our workforce and the people we support so our residents can live full and healthy lives.”

Mind policy advisor Alison Cobb, said: “These delays mean that people are being deprived of liberty without the right safeguards, as providers cannot use all the protective legislation.

“It is a disgraceful breach of human rights that people are waiting a year or longer for their DoLS application to be processed.”