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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness


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Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) Resource

The DoLS e-Learning training is available free of charge to all NHS funded doctors in England and Wales. The e-Learning training is delivered by e-Learning for Healthcare (e-LfH).

The role of the mental health assessor is an important statutory role. Once  doctors have successfully completed and passed the training, they are eligible to play an essential part in a process designed to protect the rights of vulnerable people who lack capacity to make their own decisions about their accommodation for care or treatment. Depending on the outcome of assessments carried out by the mental health assessor, and also by the best interests assessor, a person’s deprivation of liberty may be authorised as being lawful and in their best interests.


About Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

The Mental Capacity Act Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (formerly known as the Bournewood safeguards) were introduced into the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) through the Mental Health Act 2007 (MHA). The aim of the safeguards is to provide legal protection for those vulnerable people who are deprived of their liberty otherwise than under the Mental Health Act 1983, to prevent arbitrary decisions to deprive a person of their liberty and to give rights to challenge deprivation of liberty authorisations. The safeguards apply to people who lack capacity to consent to care or treatment, and who are suffering from a disorder of the mind. The implementation of the safeguards should reduce the number of people deprived of their liberty in care homes and hospitals.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) has worked collaboratively with the Department of Health to produce training for doctors. Regulations agreed by Parliament in 2008 have specified that Supervisory Bodies (in relation to DoLS) must be satisfied that, to be mental health assessors, doctors must have completed this DoLS mental health assessor programme, made available by the RCPsych.


Becoming a DoLS Mental Health Assessor

The training is designed for two groups of medical practitioners:

  • Medical practitioners who have at least three years post registration experience of the diagnosis or treatment of a mental disorder from a variety of medical specialties and who are not MHA Section 12 Approved.
  • MHA Section 12 Approved doctors (psychiatrists and non-psychiatrists)





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