MHA 1983 s17

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Mental Health Act 1983
(as amended)

Law as at 19/11/11 unless otherwise stated under "Amendments" heading

Part II contents

2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 12ZA, 12ZB, 12ZC, 12A, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 17A, 17B, 17C, 17D, 17E, 17F, 17G, 18, 19, 19A, 20, 20A, 20B, 21, 21A, 21B, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34

All Parts

I, II, III, IV, 4A, V, VI, VIII, IX, X, Schedules

This is the section which allows the RMO to allow a detained patient out of hospital temporarily on leave of absence.

See Leave of absence.

Changes made by Mental Health Act 2007

Related cases

Any cases with a hyperlink to this legislation will automatically be added here. There may be other relevant cases without a hyperlink, so please check the mental health case law page.

  • R (K) v West London MH NHS Trust [2006] EWCA Civ 118 — MENTAL DISORDER — Secretary of State’s powers — Leave of absence — Patient granted leave of absence by registered medical officer — Patient wishing to make trial transfer to private sector medium security hospital — Secretary of State refusing to fund transfer — Whether Secretary of State (or his delegate) obliged to fund placement — Whether opinion of registered medical officer binding on Secretary of State — National Health Service Act 1977, s 3 — Mental Health Act 1983, s17. A mental health trust was not obliged to fund a placement for trial leave which a patient’s registered medical officer had decided under s 17 of the Mental Health Act 1983 was clinically appropriate. The opinion of a registered medical officer on a matter of clinical judgment was not binding on the Secretary of State for Health (or his delegate) performing functions under s 3 of the National Health Service Act 1977.
  • R (P) v Mersey Care NHS Trust [2003] EWHC 994 (Admin) — A Tribunal recommendation for transfer from high to medium security is an important input but is not determinative; the decision whether to use the s17 (leave) and s19 (transfer) powers is for the RC and hospital managers, subject to the consent of the Secretary of State; on the facts, the Article 8 interference was justified and a decision not to transfer was properly open to them.
  • SL v Ludlow Street Healthcare [2015] UKUT 398 (AAC) — The patient was living outside hospital on s17 leave but was required to attend hospital for fortnightly psychology sessions and a monthly ward round. He challenged the tribunal's decision that it remained appropriate for him to be liable to be detained in hospital under s3 for medical treatment. This was unsuccessful as the tribunal had applied the correct legal test and had applied it properly. The UT judge added that medical treatment includes rehabilitation under medical supervision, which meant that the s17 leave and the rehabilitation provided outside hospital, both of which operated under medical supervision, were themselves part of the treatment plan.

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See also

[The chapter/paragraph numbers which appear below (if any) refer to the 2008 versions of the Code of Practice and Reference Guide.]


Leave of absence from hospital

17.—(1) The [responsible clinician][1] may grant to any patient who is for the time being liable to be detained in a hospital under this Part of this Act leave to be absent from the hospital subject to such conditions (if any) as [that clinician][1] considers necessary in the interests of the patient or for the protection of other persons.

(2) Leave of absence may be granted to a patient under this section either indefinitely or on specified occasions or for any specified period; and where leave is so granted for a specified period, that period may be extended by further leave granted in the absence of the patient.

[(2A) But longer-term leave may not be granted to a patient unless the responsible clinician first considers whether the patient should be dealt with under section 17A instead.

(2B) For these purposes, longer-term leave is granted to a patient if—

(a) leave of absence is granted to him under this section either indefinitely or for a specified period of more than seven consecutive days; or
(b) a specified period is extended under this section such that the total period for which leave of absence will have been granted to him under this section exceeds seven consecutive days.][1]

(3) Where it appears to the [responsible clinician][1] that it is necessary so to do in the interests of the patient or for the protection of other persons, he may, upon granting leave of absence under this section, direct that the patient remain in custody during his absence; and where leave of absence is so granted the patient may be kept in the custody of any officer on the staff of the hospital, or of any other person authorised in writing by the managers of the hospital or, if the patient is required in accordance with conditions imposed on the grant of leave of absence to reside in another hospital, of any officer on the staff of that other hospital.

(4) In any case where a patient is absent from a hospital in pursuance of leave of absence granted under this section, and it appears to the [responsible clinician][1] that it is necessary so to do in the interests of the patient’s health or safety or for the protection of other persons, [that clinician][1] may, subject to subsection (5) below, by notice in writing given to the patient or to the person for the time being in charge of the patient, revoke the leave of absence and recall the patient to the hospital.

(5) A patient to whom leave of absence is granted under this section shall not be recalled under subsection (4) above after he has ceased to be liable to be detained under this Part of this Act; [...].[2]

[(6) Subsection (7) below applies to a person who is granted leave by or by virtue of a provision—

(a) in force in Scotland, Northern Ireland, any of the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man; and
(b) corresponding to subsection (1) above.

(7) For the purpose of giving effect to a direction or condition imposed by virtue of a provision corresponding to subsection (3) above, the person may be conveyed to a place in, or kept in custody or detained at a place of safety in, England and Wales by a person authorised in that behalf by the direction or condition.][3]