The process, known as Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS), is used when patients who lack the mental capacity to consent need to be detained in a place like a hospital or care home.
It is only used in in circumstances where it would be in the best interest of the person and a proper authorisation process should be in place to ensure it is done lawfully.
New figures from NHS Digital indicated an 11% rise in DoLS applications in England compared to last year. Figures reached 217,235 during 2016/17, the highest since they were introduced in 2009. Meanwhile, thousands of applications have taken more than a year to be completed – despite the recommended time-frame of just three weeks.
Gavin Terry, Policy Manager at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “These figures prove once again an issue we have been highlighting for years – that an unacceptable number of people are being left in limbo by a system that is too complex, over-stretched and under-resourced.
“Depriving anyone of their liberty must only ever be a last resort, and in the person’s best interests but too often we hear cases where people with dementia and carers are left confused and distressed by a system that fails to meet their needs.
“It is vital that the Government responds to the Law Commission’s proposals and takes forward a comprehensive plan of reform that ensures the rights of people with dementia not to be unlawfully deprived of their liberty are protected.”