Thousands of elderly and vulnerable patients are being illegally restrained by staff in hospitals and care homes, according to the care watchdog.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) warns that carers and nursing staff are ignoring laws which state they must apply for approval before depriving patients of their liberty.
But there is a “worrying” backlog of nearly 20,000 cases awaiting approval for a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguard, and staff may well be restraining patients anyway as they wait for paperwork, the watchdog said.
Care home staff go to councils and hospital staff to the NHS with the applications, nearly half of which are turned down.
There were nearly 53,000 applications in the first six months of 2014/15, a seven-fold increase compared to submissions for the entire year of 2013/14. The huge rise followed two court rulings which stated individuals could also be deprived of their liberty in foster care and sheltered housing, as well as hospitals and care homes.
“The vast majority of people working in hospitals and care homes are decent and dedicated to their profession. It’s such a shame they are “propping up”, to the best of their ability, a system overcomplicated, oversubscribed, overwhelmed and long overdue a new direction.”
Dementia sufferers are being put at risk of poor care because hundreds of residential homes are operating without a manager, figures released have shown.
Of 7,000 specialist care homes across England, 759 do not have a registered boss who is legally responsible for it’s running and failings, watchdog the Care Quality Commission admits.
Former Lib Dem Care Minister Paul Burstow blasted: “This situation is simply not acceptable. Things clearly need to change, fast.” The Alzheimer’s Society branded the situation “worrying and unacceptable”. About 800,000 people have dementia in the UK, but is this set to rise to a million by 2024.
Experts have blamed the issue on slow or poor recruitment and providers failing to appoint in a bid to save cash – despite potential fines up to £4,000.
The CQC said: “When these positions remain unfilled, people are at greater risk of poor care.
Disgraceful and heart-sinking issues regarding the health and welfare of our nation just keep coming and coming. Is it going to stop – “any ideas?”