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Mental Capacity Act 2005, Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards England, 2018-19

This is part of

Official statistics
Publication date:
Geographic coverage:
Geographical granularity:
County, Regions, Councils with Adult Social Services Responsibilities (CASSRs), Local Authorities
Date range:
01 Apr 2018 to 31 Mar 2019


A note regarding these statistics

This publication provides statistics from the Mental Capacity Act 2005, Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards data collection for the most recent financial year. DoLS are a legal framework that exist to ensure that individuals who lack the mental capacity to consent to the arrangements for their care, where such care may amount to a "deprivation of liberty", have the arrangements independently assessed to ensure they are in the best interests of the individual concerned, and to give those subject to a deprivation of liberty the means to challenge this.

This publication covers DoLS applications made to local authorities by care homes and hospitals. Data were provided by all 152 Councils with Adult Social Services Responsibility (CASSRs) - for ease of reading and consistency ‘local authority’ will be used subsequently to refer to CASSRs. Statistics on challenges to DoLS authorisations are published by the Ministry of Justice.

This publication provides analysis of all DoLS applications that were active at any stage during the period, and concentrates on six main areas of DoLS activity:

  • the demographic profile of people for whom a DoLS application was submitted, analysing data on the applications received for individuals during the period rather than the total number of applications received
  • applications received during the year, regardless of the status of the application at the end of the period
  • applications completed (i.e. signed off) during the year, regardless of when the application was received
  • applications not completed as at year end
  • analysis of the length of the application process, including compliance with the 21 day standard outlined in the Code of Practice
  • analysis of the duration (proposed and actual) of granted authorisations and the proportion of authorisations that ended early

The publication consists of:

  • tables providing data at local authority level
  • machine readable open data (csv files)
  • a data quality assessment, including data completeness and integrity measures
  • supporting information
  • the Adult Social Care Analytical Hub, an interactive business intelligence tool

In order to prevent the disclosure of individuals, figures 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4 are displayed as a "*" (star symbol) in the data tables. All other figures have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 5. Proportions (percentages) are calculated on the unrounded figures.

How can the data be used?

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Do use this data:
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Do not use this data:


DoLS data are collated and processed by NHS Digital from an annual mandatory data collection from all local authorities in England. The collection requires one record per DoLS application with information on; the dates that applications were received and processed, details of the key decisions made and demographic information about the individuals involved. No person identifiable data is collected.

Between April 2009 and March 2013, DoLS applications were processed by both local authorities and Primary Care Trusts (PCTs). Local authorities processed applications from care homes and PCTs processed those from hospitals. During this time, NHS Digital collected data on a quarterly basis from both local authorities and PCTs in an aggregated form. Following the abolishment of PCTs in 2013, all applications from both health and care settings have been processed by local authorities and the returns are submitted at a case level on a yearly basis. The DoLS collection has remained mandatory for all local authorities.

The collection methodology changed for the 2013-14 DoLS collection onward, following a “zero-based review” of adult social care data collections. The review considered changes in the delivery of social care and looked into what information should be provided to monitor the most important current and future priorities. The key changes introduced were to move to collecting the data annually and at a case level, rather than quarterly and in aggregate. The 2013-14 DoLS collection was developed following consideration of this feedback and was approved by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and other key stakeholder organisations including the Association of the Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS).

The data collection has evolved since then in fairly minor ways, with any changes being signed-off by the appropriate governance boards, which involves a process of approval consisting of the DoLS Working Group (comprising a cohort of local authority DoLS leads and performance leads to advise on the data collection), the Adult Social Care Data Delivery Action Group (a national group overseeing adult social care data collections, publications and the working groups, and which consists of NHS Digital, ADASS, Local Government Association, Care Quality Commission and DHSC) and the Adult Social Care Data Outcomes Board (a strategic national group setting the priorities for adult social care national data collections, publications and associated developments).

Any changes to the collection have been communicated to local authorities via the annual ‘September Letter’ and the associated social care collection materials.

Specific changes to the data collection for 2018-19 are:

  • removal of Withdrawn as an Application Status, along with adding Admin Error as a Reason Not Granted.
  • removal of derived field Duration (Days) from the dataset
  • removal of NA as a default code value in 8 fields; replacement of NA as a default code value in 3 fields

Who this publication is aimed at

This publication may be of interest to members of the public, policy officials and other stakeholders to make local and national comparisons and to monitor the quality and effectiveness of services.

In particular, local authorities may find this data helpful in shaping services and making improvements, especially in terms of benchmarking their services and comparing them with previous years or to share best practice with colleagues in other authorities.

DoLS teams across England are working to bring improvements to the DoLS processes and to service users’ quality of life and may use the data presented here to focus their efforts.

Officials in DHSC can use the data contained within this DoLS publication to make decisions about national policy and practice.

Members of the public and other stakeholders, such as charity organisations, can also use this DoLS publication to help satisfy themselves that processes are followed and that officials are acting in service users’ best interests.

Additional analysis

In previous years an annual report has formed part of this publication. This provided a broad range of in-depth analysis and commentary around the data. This is not included this year, however the data released remains the same.

Instead of providing this analysis upfront, NHS Digital encourages any users wanting bespoke additional analysis to request this directly and we can work with you to understand your requirements and provide the data. We hope this will provide a more responsive and valuable service to meet your needs. Please send any such requests to

Please note that although the data released remains the same the data tables have been reformatted. The table below shows last year’s annex tables and where they map to in this publication.

2018-19 2017-18
Data Tables - Demographics Annex B
Data Tables - Applications Annex A, C, D, E, H
Data Tables - Timeframes

Annex F

CSV - Applications N/A
CSV - Demographics N/A

Data quality key information

Data quality is measured on submission of annual data by local authorities, and processes are followed to try and improve quality of data submitted. Summary measures indicate that the data submitted was valid and complete to a high degree. The quality of data has improved over time and therefore users should be aware of the following specific issues:

Not completed applications

As in previous years, NHS Digital has used the data available to calculate the estimated volumes of applications not completed at year end. An estimated number of applications not completed can be created by taking last year’s reported number of applications not completed, adding the number of applications received and then subtracting the number of applications completed.

This calculation produces an estimated figure greater than the equivalent figure reported by local authorities. NHS Digital has worked with local authorities to try to understand the reasons for this. From the local authorities who provided explanations for their variation, one common theme was that this variation could be explained by the figures from the previous reporting period being higher than they should have been. This was due to several reasons, such as the previous return including applications that should have had a status of Not Granted but the application was still showing as in progress, or data quality issues caused by migrating data from older reporting systems.

Variance in active authorisations

The DoLS data collection should include all applications that were active at any point in the year. During the analysis of the data, it was noticed that a number of local authorities had once again not submitted data for authorisations that had been started in the previous year but had finished in the current year. During the data validation process, many local authorities resolved this issue and included the missing authorisations for their final data return. However, some local authorities did not have the capacity to correct their data. As a result, twenty one local authorities are showing significantly lower numbers of active authorisations on 1 April 2018, the opening date of the 2018-19 collection, compared with the previous day, 31 March 2018, the closing date of 2017-18 collection. Having these data allows us to accurately measure the actual duration of granted authorisations and also measure the number of authorisations in place throughout the year. NHS Digital will continue to provide the guidance document and encourage all local authorities to review this document each year to ensure they are including the correct records.

Person Reference

Should an individual have multiple DoLS applications, the same Person Reference should be used for each of their applications. This allows NHS Digital to analyse and provide data on numbers of applications per individual. During the data validation process, NHS Digital identified some local authorities which used a different Person Reference for each row of their return which would indicate the unlikely situation that each record was for a different person. Four local authorities were unable to address this issue in time for the final submission deadline. NHS Digital will continue to work with local authorities to ensure there is a clear understanding about use of Person Reference.

Incomplete Actual End Dates

During the data validation process, NHS Digital identified approximately 8,000 cases across 29 local authorities where the Planned End Date of the authorisation was during the current reporting period however the Actual End Date had been left blank, indicating the unlikely scenario that the authorisation was still in place. NHS Digital worked with the local authorities in question to resolve this issue which reduced the number of these cases to approximately 2,500. This issue has the effect of inflating the figure reported in Table 6 in the Time Frames data tables, which is the number of authorisations in place on 31st March 2019.

Removal of ‘withdrawn’ application status

The ‘withdrawn’ application status was removed for the 2018-19 collection to ensure all not granted cases are recorded appropriately. A new ‘Reason Not Granted’ code ‘Admin Error’ was created to allow cases to be recorded which had been genuinely withdrawn e.g. the application had been sent to the wrong local authority. As a result, the number of not granted applications as a proportion of completed applications has increased, as withdrawn cases were not previously included in the not granted figures.

Please see the Data Quality Statement for more information on data quality.

Last edited: 19 November 2019 1:47 pm