Aftercare under Section 117 of the Mental Health Act 1983: awareness and practice

Med Sci Law. 2009 Jan;49(1):41-5. doi: 10.1258/rsmmsl.49.1.41.


The aim of this study is to investigate the level of awareness amongst consultants regarding Mental Health Act (MHA) Section 117 aftercare, their responsibilities and current practice. We conducted a cross-sectional survey alongside a retrospective study of the Trust Section 117 aftercare registers. Seventy-four per cent of the consultants were aware of the Section 117 aftercare registers and the need for review of aftercare. Ninety-four per cent were aware of the financial implications of Section 117. However, only 52% of the consultants regularly contributed to the review process to identify patients who were no longer in need of aftercare under Section 117. Over a five-year period, 150 patients were discharged from Section 117, of whom only 4% were officially discharged following review of the care plan. Health and social services have a legal obligation to provide aftercare to all eligible patients free of charge under Section 117. With the new Mental Health Act 2007 this will now include patients on Supervised Community Treatment Orders. It is important to have a clear understanding of Section 117 to ensure patients' needs are met and to allow effective use of resources.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aftercare*
  • Aged
  • Consultants*
  • England
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care*