Dementia red tape is ‘causing misery’
THOUSANDS of dementia patients are being classed as in ‘state detention’ thanks to a bizarre new web of red tape – meaning they must have an inquest when they die.
Families have spoken of their horror at learning they must wait weeks to bury their loved one even if they have passed away of natural causes.
Their heartache is the result of a court ruling made last year, as well as new coroners’ guidelines.
The ruling means thousands more patients are being given ‘deprivation of liberty safeguard assessments’ to ensure they are not being inappropriately restrained or abused.
Thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision – which says such orders should apply to anyone ‘not free to leave’, even if it is for the purposes of ‘benign care’ – care homes are inundating councils with requests for assessments on dementia patients.
And anyone subject to one is now deemed, by the Chief Coroner, to be in ‘state detention’ – so they must have an inquest.
An ambulance must also be called, police have to attend and relatives must visit a mortuary to identify the body.
Stockport MP Ann Coffey, who uncovered the scale of the problem after being inundated with complaints from shocked relatives, says it will not only cause families ‘untold misery’, but is creating an ‘expensive, bureaucratic nightmare’ for local services.
She said Stockport council alone is expecting to spend around £1.2m this year on the checks and has hired six new social workers, a coordinator, an outside agency and a part-time solicitor.
Meanwhile GPs have told her they are becoming overwhelmed by the new duty and its cost, while the chief constable has also raised concerns.
Ms Coffey, who will today call for the system to be scrapped in parliament, said: “This system is an expensive, bureaucratic nightmare that will inevitably divert resources from frontline care.
“It must be urgently reviewed.
“My main concern is that when loved ones die in care, relatives should not have their grief exacerbated by this.
“This system is not remotely sensitive. It is a sledgehammer approach.
“Without a shadow of a doubt it is that phrase ‘state detention’ that is causing the most terrible grief to relatives.
“When someone asks you “how did your mother die?’, who wants to reply: ‘In state detention’?”