Oldham MP challenges Mental Capacity Bill saying ‘the system is broken’
Date published: 18 February 2019
Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams
Debbie said: “In certain circumstances it is appropriate to deprive someone of their liberty in order to provide care and treatment and where the person does not have capacity to consent to such arrangements.
“We know that the system is broken but what the Government is doing is replacing it with an even worse system after trying to push through the bill at break-neck speed and without proper consultation.
“The Greater Manchester Neuro Alliance (GMNA), which I have supported for many years now, has several concerns about the bill, particularly about a situation where a person who presents inconsistently and has a cognitive impairment, mental health problems or is simply vulnerable and does not accept or appreciate their illnesses and the limitations.
“As an example of this one Oldham based member of the GMNA, who wished to remain anonymous, told that me that their son has been deemed as having ‘capacity’ because he can answer questions ‘yes' or ‘no’; even though he can’t be left alone or be allowed to go out unsupported. This man doesn’t take his medication and doesn’t have the ability to plan or manage anything including lifesaving treatment every three weeks.
“The fact that this sort of thing is allowed to happen shows that the current system is flawed and is not being addressed in the bill in its current form.”
Deb Troops, chair of the GMNA said: “The GMNA is hearing from many carers; including professionals and families that are expected to cope with people who clearly have no understanding of the risks, consequences and long-term impact of them being deemed to have mental capacity.
"The assessment only sees a person in the moment and judges them based on that. This is a high-risk strategy and doesn’t take into account how a person is outside of that ‘test’.
"We’re also concerned that care home managers are being given the power to determine capacity when in some cases this may not be based on a person’s best interests but those of the company running the facility. The current system is flawed and needs to be changed.”
Another Labour amendment Debbie backed would have prevented cared-for people from being charged for any assessments required by the system.
Debbie added: “Without amendments, we cannot be sure that people will not be charged more for their care solely because they require liberty protection safeguards to be granted.
“If the Government doesn’t accept the amendment, I would like to know why. On advocacy, we need to ensure that the ‘best interests’ test is changed to place more weight on a person’s wishes.”
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