The aftercare duty and its duration
Section 117 places a joint duty on the clinical commissioning group (CCG) (or Local Health Board in Wales) and Local Social Services Authority (LSSA) to provide, in co-operation with relevant voluntary agencies, after-care services for certain classes of detained patient (s117(2)).
The duty begins when the patient ceases to be detained and (whether or not immediately after so ceasing) leaves hospital (s117(1)). In R (CXF) v Central Bedfordshire CouncilM it was held that the relevant question is whether the patient has ‘ceased to be detained’ and has ‘left hospital’ (as opposed to merely having ‘left the hospital’), and on the facts of that case there was no right to free s117 after-care during the patient’s regular escorted s17 leave. In other cases, the s117 duty to provide after-care services could be triggered during s17 leave of absence, such as the situation considered in R v Richmond LBC ex p Watson M, in which the patient was discharged from hospital on s17 leave to live in a residential care home for a trial period. The decision was upheld on appeal: M.
The Code of Practice states (at para 33.10) that ‘although the duty to provide after-care begins when the patient leaves hospital, the planning of after-care needs to start as soon as the patient is admitted to hospital’.
The duty continues until the CCG and LSSA are both satisfied that such services are no longer required; this decision to ‘discharge’ cannot be made during the continuance of a CTO (s117(2)).