Hundreds of vulnerable people in Norfolk caught up in care check backlog

Hundreds of assessments to establish if older people are receiving the correct care have not been do

Hundreds of assessments to establish if older people are receiving the correct care have not been done. Pic: John Stillwell/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Hundreds of people in Norfolk, including people with dementia and learning disabilities, have not been assessed to see if their care is legally depriving them of their liberty, it can be revealed today.

The backlog has been criticised by the Alzheimer's Society, but they and council bosses say the government needs to provide more money for checks to ensure people in care homes, hospitals and supported living get the right care.

Norfolk County Council is meant to review if the deprivation of liberty is justifiable, but has 222 high priority cases where assessments have not been done. It is not assessing lower priority cases at all.

Council bosses said the backlog built up after a landmark legal ruling in 2014, known as the Cheshire West case.

Prior to that, the council's Deprivation of Liberty Safeguarding team received just over a hundred applications a year, but since March 2014 it has had 4,523 referrals.

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A council spokesman said staff were working hard to prioritise cases and had initially focused on housing with care for people with dementia and learning disability supported living schemes.

Norfolk got £440,000 extra last year after representations to the government, but that was a one off and the authority estimates it would need to at least double that figure on a recurring basis to cover costs.

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George McNamara, head of policy and public affairs at the Alzheimer's Society, agreed local councils needed more funding. He said: 'This backlog may lead to people with dementia being unlawfully deprived of their liberty simply because the paperwork is yet to be completed.'

North Norfolk MP and former health minister Norman Lamb said: 'Local authorities across the county are facing substantial numbers of cases and large backlogs, but don't have the resources, so I don't blame the county council for this.'

A spokesman for the Department of health said the safeguards helped protect vulnerable people and said: 'We understand the essential work local authorities do on this, that's why we provided extra funding to help ensure these individuals have their care reviewed.'

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