Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

Information about how people in hospitals or care homes who lack the capacity to consent to certain treatments are protected

What are the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)?

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards focus on people in hospitals or care homes, who for their own safety and in their own best interests, need to receive care and treatment that may have the effect of depriving them of their liberty, but who lack the capacity to consent to these arrangements.

The deprivation of a person's liberty is a serious matter and should not happen unless it is absolutely necessary. These safeguards have been created to ensure that any decision to deprive someone of their liberty is made following defined processes and in consultation with specific authorities.

How to make a DoLS Application

The DoLS forms were updated in April 2015 and have been reduced from 33 to 13.

See a full list of DOLS forms.

To support the completion of forms please read this Guidance to the DoLS forms. Managing authorities (care homes and hospitals) should consult this guidance, which will assist them when making a DoLS referral.

Where managing authorities believe that the requirements for a DoLS application are met, they should accurately complete the DoLS Form 1 (Standard Request and Urgent Authorisation).

  • The completed form should be sent by email to customer.first@suffolk.gcsx.gov.uk For alternative ways to submit the form please contact Customer First on 0345 606 6167.

On receipt of the DoLS forms, Customer First will acknowledge their receipt and the process will then commence, from which the Best Interests Assessor and Section 12 doctor will be commissioned and will contact the care home or hospital promptly to arrange undertaking their assessments.

For full guidance on the DoLS, managing authorities should refer to the DoLS Code of Practice (PDF, 474KB). 

We have brought together some examples of best practice (PDF, 324KB) to demonstrate how DOLS can have an impact on the customer they were designed to protect. 

Guidance on the DoLS

Browse the tabs below for guidance on how the DoLS work.

From Monday 3 April 2017, coroners no longer have a duty to undertake an inquest into the death of every person who was subject to an authorisation under the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS). 

For any person subject to a DoLS authorisation who has died on 3 April 2017 or any time after, their death need not be reported to the coroner unless the cause of death is unknown or where there are concerns that the cause of death was unnatural or violent, including where there is any concern about the care given having contributed to the person’s death.

Any person with any concerns about how or why someone has come to their death can contact the coroner directly. This will not change where a person is subject to a DoLS authorisation. What has changed is that the coroner will no longer be duty bound to investigate every death where the deceased had a DoLS in place.  

For more information on coroner services, please see the Coroner Services Guides.

Read the guidance No 16a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (PDF, 84KB).

This Law Commissions Review of the Mental Capacity Act and the DoLS is complete. The final report and draft Bill were published on 13 March 2017.

The Government’s interim response to the Law Commission’s report on Mental Capacity and Deprivation of Liberty was published on 30 October 2017. The government are now engaging with a range of stakeholders to understand in greater detail how these changes can be implemented and will also consider what enabling actions need to be taken to support the Mental Capacity Act ethos of greater empowerment and care centred around people, their wishes and aspirations.

You can find out more about the consultation and read related documents on the Law Commission website.

Responses to the consultation