Section 117 aftercare

If you or a loved one have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act, you may be entitled to free aftercare under section 117. However, there are many people who are entitled to free aftercare who have never been told about it and have therefore been wrongly paying care fees.

We are able to offer full support and assistance to individuals or their representatives entitled to section 117 aftercare services or to challenge retrospective decisions and recover any wrongly paid fees.

Key contact

Michelle represents many clients in challenging current and retrospective decisions to refuse NHS funded continuing healthcare to long-term nursing home residents. She also has significant experience in supporting individuals or their representatives entitled to aftercare services under section 117.

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The Mental Health Act 1982 & Section 117 Aftercare

Section 117 of the Mental Health Act 1982 applies to anyone who has been detained under the following sections:

  • for treatment under section 3 (the most common)
  • under a hospital order under section 37
  • following transfer from prison under section 47 or 48
  • under a hospital direction under section 45A

Please not that section 117 does not apply to individuals who are detained under section 2 of the Mental Health Act.

An individual can be detained under Section 3 of the Mental Health Act if the individual has:

  • A mental disorder
  • It is necessary for their own health or safety or for the protection of others
  • Their treatment cannot be given unless detained in hospital
  • And doctors must agree that appropriate treatment is available.

Under Section 3 of the Mental Health Act, an individual can be detained for up to six months. This can be renewed or extended by the individual’s responsible clinician.  There is no limit to the number of times the section can be renewed.

The responsible clinician can also discharge an individual from the section before it comes to an end.

Your questions answered

What is Section 117 aftercare?


Section 117 begins when an individual leaves hospital. Aftercare is the help that an individual gets when they leave hospital.

What services are included in Section 117 aftercare?


There is no limit on what services are available to an individual.  However, the services:

  • Have to meet the needs of the individual arising from or relating to an individual’s mental disorder and
  • Reduce the chance of the individual being re-admitted to hospital

The Care Act 2014 widened the definition of what constitutes Section 117 aftercare and it is now sufficient for the need to be related to the mental disorder and not as a result of it.

The Care Act 2014 also states that aftercare services could include:

  • Health care
  • Social care
  • Employment services
  • Supported Accommodation
  • Services to meet the individual’s cultural and spiritual needs and
  • Services that support a person in regaining or enhancing their skills, or learning new skills, in order to cope with life outside hospital

In determining what aftercare services are required for an individual, professionals should consider the individual and their family’s views.

Who is responsible for Section 117 aftercare?


Local authorities and clinical commissioning groups are jointly responsible.  The area responsible is that where the individual is ordinarily resident before they were detained.  The responsibility is fixed and will not change if the individual moves to a different area.

When does Section 117 aftercare end?


Aftercare services should be provided to an individual as long as they need them. The responsibility to provide aftercare services ends when the individual is discharged from Section 117. For an individual to be discharged, both the local authority and the clinical commissioning group must agree that the individual no longer requires the services.

If the decision to discharge the individual is made, they should be informed and have the reasons for this decision explained to them. They should also be given the opportunity to challenge the decision.

What happens if there is a dispute?


If aftercare services are not provided or an individual disagrees with being discharged, a complaint should be made to the local authority and clinical commissioning group in the first instance. If an individual is dissatisfied by the outcome of the complaint then a complaint can be made to the Local Government Ombudsman and Public Health Service Ombudsman.  It however, may be more appropriate to consider issuing judicial review proceedings.

A solicitor would be best placed to advise on this. However, any proceedings for judicial review must be issued promptly and within three months of the decision the individual seeks to challenge.


Thank you so much for all the brilliant work you have done on behalf of me and my mother, Dorothy Clement. You are such a very excellent lawyer. I am so delighted with how you have handled my claim

Mrs S. Cornwall


We would like to thank you for all the work and guidance. You were very professional and yet very approachable and gave us confidence to continue with the case. Thank you once again.

Mr and Mrs P. - South Wales


Thank you for superb work on mum’s behalf; an excellent result. Many thanks.

Mr L. Bristol


Thank you very much for all your work in my father’s case for NHS Continuing Healthcare. Your work was without doubt instrumental to the successful outcome.

Mrs R. Northants

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