Sometimes is the answer according to the recently delivered judgment in R (CXF) v Central Bedfordshire Council.
The case considered whether the s.117 aftercare duty was triggered by the patient’s grant of leave under s.17. The patient, who was also the Claimant in this case, via his mother, contended that the 117 duty applied and therefore that the costs of his travel with his mother on escorted community visits granted under s.17 should be paid for by the responsible s.117 authorities.
The Judge found in the circumstances that the nature of the leave granted did not amount to the patient having ‘left’ hospital (the biting point for s.117 aftercare) and the claim therefore fell at the first hurdle.
The Code of Practice to the Mental Health Act currently provides that s.117 aftercare does extend to periods of leave granted under s.17.
This inclusion arose in large part from the findings of Sullivan J in R v. Richmond LBC Ex p W, where, in the case of a patient granted trial leave into residential accommodation, Sullivan J found that the s.117 duty would bite.
The Reference Guide to the Mental Health Act provides that the degree to which s.117 is triggered whilst on s.17 leave will depend upon the circumstances.
This case reinforces the point that s.117 aftercare can bite when a patient is granted leave under s.17, but only where the nature of that leave signifies the likely conclusion of the patient’s period of acute inpatient care.