Staffordshire County Council

1,090 Best Interests Assessments waiting list

Following the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on the Mental Capacity Act in 2013, many local authorities have seen a massive rise in Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLs) cases. 

Xyla Health and social care (formerly ICS Assessment Services) were approached by Staffordshire County Council in January 2015, and invited to present a model to address the Council’s DoLS waiting list. Over a period of 9 months, we cleared the entire 880 case waiting list. We were then allocated a final batch of 210 assessments, bringing the total completed to 1,090. 

Key Achievements: 

  • Council faced a waiting list of 880 DoLS cases 
  • Waiting list cleared within 9 months 
  • Total of 1,090 Best Interests Assessments completed by our projects team 
  • 98% of assessments accepted at first submission by the Council, compared to less than 50% under their previous arrangements. 
  • Assessments completed at a rate of 27 per week, compared to around 10 per week under previous arrangements. 

Our Approach: 

Starting in January 2015, we received an initial allocation of 265 assessments to be completed within 3 months. Following our successful completion of this batch, we were given three subsequent batches. In total, over the 12 months we completed 1,090 best interest assessments for the Council. We proposed an outsourced assessment model, tailored to Staffordshire’s situation, which incorporated: 

  • Structured, batch case allocation securely transferred from the Council’s backlog to Xyla
  • A cohort of locally-based Best Interest Assessors (BIAs) used to complete the assessments 
  • An in-house DoLS Administration Team to liaise with the Council, dealing with the secure transfer of data and allocation of assessments to BIAs 
  • Assessors overseen and co-ordinated by our experienced DoLS Lead 
  • Completed assessments Quality Assured by our DoLS Lead to the Council’s own standards, before being returned for Authorisation. 

Utilising the standard ADASS Forms and working to exacting standards throughout, we enabled signatories to return Form 5s with confidence, as evidenced via quarterly extensions to the contract. Our work has helped to protect the borough from potential legal action. 


We’ve also helped the council to implement a new model for commissioning independent Best Interests Assessors, using a payment by results model rather than an hourly pay rate to optimise the quality of assessments. 

Social Value: 

Our commitment to quality assurance and helping assessors improve their practice has helped to develop the skills of the local workforce. By working with local BIAs to improve their insight and assessment skills, we have ensured that there is increased capacity to do this kind of work in the future.