In Re JM  EWCOP, Charles J's stinging rebuke to the Secretaries of State for Health and Justice respectively to "step up to the plate" and provide support to vulnerable adults who are deprived of their liberty via applications under s16 MCA 2005,
we are given a vivid picture of the strains which statutory advocacy services face. The judge quotes verbatim the evidence submitted by local authorities up and down the country about the pressures on the providers of a bewildering range of statutory advocates, from IMCAs through Care Act advocates to RPRs and - now- representatives appointed by the Court of Protection under Rule 3A of the Court of Protection rules.
Research by Community Care last year
drew attention to the low levels of referrals for Care Act advocacy and considered the possible reasons for this. Clearly things have not improved. Legislation in health and social care gives advocacy a vital role to play in ensuring that those lacking capacity can assert their rights - but if the supply is inadequate these rights will not be practical or effective.
...Workforce capacity is the most challenging issue ..........the provider currently has only six, qualified IMCAs, who already have full caseloads, with an overall team of 12 advocates. It will take time to train advocates to act as Rule 3A representatives and this will result in pressures on the provider. There will be waiting lists and criteria will need to be developed for prioritising individual cases above others. ... ......... The service is currently stretched to capacity by DOL Standard Authorisations and an increased involvement in Court of Protection cases, in addition to general requirements for advocacy arising under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, the Mental Health Act 1983 and the new regime of the Care Act 2014. There is currently a waiting list in operation ..... ......... currently operating at capacity and cannot consider providing the service without additional funds.