Charities protest against proposed cut in free mental health aftercare

Charities have registered alarm at the prospect of a cut in the
availability of free aftercare for discharged mental health
patients to just six weeks under the draft Mental Health

Under section 117 of the Mental Health Act 1983, detained patients
are entitled to free aftercare after they have left hospital for as
long as the local authority is satisfied that they need the
services, but under the new proposals this will be reduced.

Giving evidence last week to the joint committee on the draft
Mental Health Bill, the Alzheimer’s Society said the proposed
six-week period would be “inadequate” for many people with dementia
leaving hospital following compulsory treatment.

In their statement, Clive Evers, director of information and
education, and Professor Clive Ballard, director of research said:
“These individuals are likely to have a high level of need and will
require intensive support from health and social services. This
support is a health need and should therefore not be means-tested
and should be available for as long as it is required by the

In written evidence to the committee, mental health charity Maca
warned that aftercare including accommodation, home support and
attendance at a day centre, should not be seen as an “optional

The charity also expressed concern that patients would be more
likely to avoid aftercare if they were charged for it.

Maca said: “Avoiding aftercare makes integration into the community
after hospitalisation more difficult, and relapse more likely. If
aftercare is ineffective, the resources used on compulsory
inpatient treatment may, in retrospect, be seen to be

The charity added: “As a point of principle, we believe that anyone
who is deprived of their liberty and subjected to treatment against
their will should not be expected to pay for that treatment.”

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