Who is responsible for providing section 117 aftercare?
It is the duty of the:
It is their responsibility to provide you with aftercare services, or to arrange for them to be provided. They often provide them together with voluntary agencies.
Sometimes there are disputes between different Clinical Commissioning Groups, Local Health Boards and local authorities about who has to provide or pay for your aftercare services. Even if this happens, your care planning and discharge should not be delayed.
Local authorities can make payments directly to you, or to someone else suitable, to pay for aftercare services under section 117. For this to happen, you must be an adult, and:
- you must have the capacity to ask for direct payments
- if you want someone to act on your behalf, they must agree to this
- the local authority must be satisfied that you or anyone acting on your behalf are capable of managing the direct payments, if necessary with help from others, such as family members
- the local authority is satisfied that making direct payments is an appropriate way of meeting your needs for care and support
How long will I get section 117 aftercare?
You will be provided aftercare services under section 117 until the Clinical Commissioning Group/Local Health Board and the local authority are satisfied that you no longer require these services.
The English and Welsh Codes of Practice say that you should be fully involved in any decision making process to end your aftercare services.
They also say that aftercare services under section 117 should not be taken away because:
If your aftercare services have been taken away and your mental condition has begun to deteriorate, then the services should be put back to stop your condition from getting worse.
What can I do if there are problems with my section 117 aftercare?
Clinical Commissioning Groups/Local Health Boards and local authorities have a legal duty to provide aftercare services under section 117, although they have a choice as to exactly what services are provided.
If you have problems with the aftercare services, you have a number of options:
- Raise your problem with your care coordinator to begin with. They may be able to find a solution for you.
- If your problem is with health-related services, you can follow the complaints procedure of that service. If you are not happy with the outcome of your complaint, or the way it was handled, you can ask the Health Service Ombudsman to investigate. They can make recommendations to put things right. (See our guide to complaining about health and social care).
- If the complaint is about social care provided or paid for by the local authority, you should follow that local authority’s complaints procedure. If you are not happy with the outcome of your complaint, or the way it was handled, you can ask the Local Government Ombudsman to investigate. They can make recommendations to put things right. (See our guide to complaining about health and social care).
- Ask for a judicial review. You can take the Clinical Commissioning Groups, Local Health Board or local authority to court and challenge them in a judicial review. This is where the court does not decide whether the decision they made was wrong, but whether it was made properly, taking into account all the relevant circumstances.
Judicial review claims have a very strict time limit and must be brought within 3 months of the decision you are challenging. Sometimes, just by writing a letter saying that you want to make a judicial review claim can convince them to reconsider their decision.
If you want to do this, you should get the help of a solicitor (see Useful contacts for information on how to find a solicitor). You might be able to get legal aid to pay for it too.
If I can't get section 117 aftercare services, do I have to have to pay for my after hospital care?
If you aren't eligible for free section 117 aftercare (for example, if you have been discharged from a section 2), you will not have to pay for your ongoing medical treatment. But you may have to make a contribution towards the cost of your social care treatment on a means-tested basis.
Ending section 117 aftercare
There are no clear rules in the Mental Health Act for deciding when a person no longer needs aftercare; but section 117 of the MHA says that it is up to the health and social services who are dealing with your case to make a joint decision that you no longer need it.
They must be able to give clear reasons for their decision and your needs must be reassessed before the aftercare is ended, to see how your mental health and ability to manage would be affected.
Guidance says that even if you are well settled in the community, aftercare may still continue to prevent you from becoming ill again or from getting worse.
This information was published in January 2017. We will revise it in 2019