This paper presents the case of an elderly gentleman who sustained a fractured neck of femur following a fall at home but refused to go to hospital. His general practitioner determined that he lacked capacity but ambulance and police crews refused to escort him due to concerns regarding deprivation of liberty.
The legal grounds for treating people who lack capacity in emergencies are discussed and the development of the common law into the Mental Capacity Act 2005 is demonstrated. the Mental Health Act 1983 is inappropriate to treat primarily physical conditions, whereas deprivation of liberty cannot be authorised by the Mental Capacity Act 2005 without a means of challenging the lawfulness of the detention. In response, the government has produced Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, which came into force in April 2009.