S117 Aftercare - Free Prescriptions

My daughter was sectioned under s3 of the MHA and subsequently discharged. My understanding is that she is entitled to s117 aftercare due to being detained under s3.

I have been arguing that she should receive free mental health medication under the s117 aftercare provisions but her Lead Practitioner has said that this is not correct. Mind, Rethink, Other NHS Trust websites and the actual Trust concerned all indicate that the provision of funded mental health medication should be provided under s117 aftercare.

Can anyone clarify for me whether I am correct?

Chapter & verse you are correct provided the s3 has not been revoked/discharged.
Link below from NHS Business Authority


Francesco Santino Palma

Do I get free prescriptions under Section 117 of the Mental Health Act?  · Customer Self-Service

You are correct Mark. The lead practitioner may not be aware of the process though or there might not be a process in place. I know the trust/ ICB in my area doesn’t have a process in place and when this issue has been raised they pass the responsibility back and forth. If you don’t get anywhere, you could put in a complaint to the trust/ICB. Good luck.

Hi Mark

the NHSBSA website says “To claim free prescriptions under Section 117 of the Mental Health Act, you must speak to the person who’s overseeing your care package. It’s their responsibility to arrange for the appropriate medication to be given at a prearranged place.” The Mind website https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/legal-rights/leaving-hospital/section-117-aftercare/#:~:text=Medication%20can%20come%20under%20section,of%20your%20section%20117%20aftercare is more helpful and says that you need to speak with the care coordinator. The care coordinator should be named in the hospital discharge documents.

The lead practitioner is clearly at fault for giving you misleading information and you may want to consider making a formal complaint to the mental health trust.

This recent document (dated 2020) is a good summary of what you should expect from S117 aftercare services: “Section 117 aftercare services and the Mental Health Act 1983” https://www.researchinpractice.org.uk/media/4022/adults_section-117_pg_web.pdf

In some cases psychiatric medication is all the aftercare that patients receive. It is a lot cheaper than providing other mental health services to prevent relapse. More so if a patient can be persuaded to pay for their own medication.

MHA 1983 Code of Practice 34.19 lists the areas to be considered for S117 aftercare:
Care planning requires a thorough assessment of the patient’s needs and wishes. It is likely to involve consideration of:
• continuing mental healthcare, whether in the community or on an outpatient basis
• the psychological needs of the patient and, where appropriate, of their carers
• physical healthcare
• daytime activities or employment
• appropriate accommodation
• identified risks and safety issues
• any specific needs arising from, eg co-existing physical disability, sensory impairment, learning disability or autistic spectrum disorder
• any specific needs arising from drug, alcohol or substance misuse (if relevant)
• any parenting or caring needs
• social, cultural or spiritual needs
• counselling and personal support
• assistance in welfare rights and managing finances
• involvement of authorities and agencies in a different area, if the patient is not going to live locally
• the involvement of other agencies, eg the probation service or voluntary organisations (if relevant)
• for a restricted patient, the conditions which the Secretary of State for Justice or the first-tier Tribunal has – or is likely to – impose on their conditional discharge, and
• contingency plans (should the patient’s mental health deteriorate) and crisis contact details.

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This document from the Devon Partnership NHS Trust is their process for free medication under S117 for those that are not already entitled to free prescriptions. This link downloads a .docx document.


Basically the trust purchases an annual pre-payment certificate and renews this as necessary. So it also seems to cover all prescriptions not just those for mental heath. Other trusts may have a different process or no process. If you have a problem with free medication under S117 you can try directing your care coordinator etc… to this document and asking what the equivalent local process is.

Thanks for this and you can clearly see where the issues and confusion arise - if you click on ‘can i get help with prescriptions’ and navigate through the various screens there isn’t a mental health question. I demonstrate this in teaching S117, concluding that i cannot get help! It is important to raise this awareness as there may be many people doing this, maybe have savings, don’t think they are entitled and pay! S117(6) talks about needs arising from mental ill-health AND preventing the potential for re-admission and medication can certainly play a part in recovery - and that should not cost any of our citizens.