LocalGovernmentLawyer Adult Social Care 2017 15 firmer footing where you could actually evaluate the care options before people were moved,” said one participant. “We see a lot of NHS bodies placing people into care homes, then we get a Section 21A claim against the council and supervisory body against a placement that we’ve not had anything to do with and they haven’t considered whether somebody could return to their own home.” Whether the NHS is ready for such a change is another matter. “NHS England may support the principle of it but they are likely to have concerns about the training needs,” Tim Spencer-Lane told the roundtable. “This would make hospital consultants ultimately responsible for a lot of deprivations of liberty authorisations which I suspect they may not have been familiar with before now. “However, we’ve been given what the Department of Health call a ‘funding envelope’ for our recommendations and think it comes in at ten million pounds cheaper than the current cost of the DoLS. We think we can get cost efficiencies, for example, by cutting down on the numbers of the uses of Section 12 (MHA) by doctors, by using equivalent assessments, by using systems of renewals and that sort of thing.” Members of the roundtable also queried whether the “front loading” of the application process implied by the Law Commission’s proposals might actually lead to some patients being kept in hospital for longer while waiting for a healthcare provider to get proceedings under way. Under the present system, an urgent authorisation can be obtained initially to move a person from hospital before applying for a standard authorisation later. Tim Spencer-Lane agreed up to a point that, in some contested cases, this may be the case but for the majority of applications the process should not delay transfers of care unduly. “The responsible body would have to get their act together,” he said, “If they want to discharge the person early then they’ll have to get the authorisations done, but under our scheme it wouldn’t be an onerous task if the person isn’t objecting and everyone’s in agreement with the care and treatment arrangements. It wouldn’t even necessarily require fresh assessments. Clearly if the person’s objecting or their family are objecting, then it may be that there would need to be an extra oversight over that decision.” When (and if) all this comes to pass, however, is a moot point given the government’s legislative agenda. In the meantime, DoLs is set to continue to give local authorities and their lawyers plenty to deal with for some time to come. Derek Bedlow is publisher of Local Government Lawyer. “When you’ve come, as I have, from a local authority background and now working for a firm that does a lot of health and local government work, I think there’s still quite a journey to go on to get the integration agenda working effectively.” Simon Goacher, Weightmans LLP