Section 117 aftercare – Who Pays?

 pound sign

FUNDING LABYRINTH.               GUIDANCE  NEEDED – CAN YOU HELP?

Ever since I left hospital over four years ago the Mental Health Act has provided me with some form of protection, it has allowed me to receive section 117 aftercare. This has meant that the discharge plan and care package formulated shortly after my release from hospital has been funded by a joint arrangement between the Local Authority and Health.

The Mental Health Act is complex in its own formidable way, ask anyone who has ever been sectioned. It certainly felt complex and at times draconian when I was detained in hospital and given I was sectioned under section 3 of the Act the powers the professionals held were huge. I was detained for over a 17months and I hated every single day, I felt degraded and powerless in a medical system I really didn’t understand. I never thought this piece of legislation would be my ally and yet today I realise that the protection it offers to those who have been detained under section 3 and who still have care needs is vital.

The act states that if you have ongoing care needs in the community as a result of your mental health then it has to be funded. Now that has been crucial to my leaving hospital and accessing the support I need to live in the community. My therapy, my psychologist, my support workers, my care co-ordinator and ongoing access to the crisis team out of hours have all been provided as a result of section 117 aftercare. The act states that this free aftercare should only stop when you do not need any more help from the NHS or social services. There are some safeguards to ensure that the funders can’t just pull the plug on a whim, they have to prove your needs have changed.

When I came out of hospital the legislation at that time stated that due to my circumstances when I was detained, my care needs under s117 had to funded by the authorities in the area where I was initially sectioned (Area A). This meant that a joint funding arrangement was established between the then PCT (primary care trust) and Local Authority, and initially they insisted I reside in their locality. The s117 aftercare was agreed and monitored by the Continuing Health Care Team in Area A.

My family however lived in a neighbouring area and it was were I had originally resided before I was hospitalised, so approximately 2 years ago I relocated to the village near my family in Area B. Despite this being in a different county the original funders were still legally responsible and had to meet the bill. To me at least this seemed fair, after all they had taken away my liberty, sent me to secure units that traumatised me and treated me worse than a third class citizen.

With the arrival of CCG’s (clinical commissioning groups) which replaced PCT’s, the law stayed the same and so they took over funding the health component of my care. Now the only concerns we experienced was when I relocated and I registered with a local GP (family Doctor) in Area B, the Area A CCG insisted that all my Mental Heath care was provided by the trust they had a contract with in Area A and not the one serving my new local area. It has led to some confusion and it means that currently my psychiatrist is in a different county area from where I live, the hospital I’m linked to as a result is not my nearest psychiatric facility.

We recently realised this cross border provision was potentially unhelpful and so we asked for an explanation as to why I had to receive my services from a region that I no longer live in. All we asked for initially was joined up working, the local hospital to be notified about us and possibly have access to my notes as a matter of routine, so I wouldn’t be such a surprise to them. But we couldn’t get the funding area to agree and we were just told this is how it is, so we asked for them to explain it to us in writing. It appeared to us that we were encountering bureaucracy at its very best.

We have been told for months a written response was coming, but it has taken many many months to get any idea of the thinking behind this rather ludicrous decision. This wasn’t just any request it was based on genuine concerns that I and my family have, cross border working is only ever successful if there is real partnership and sharing of knowledge.

image

My concern and that of my family is this, if I ring the Crisis Team in Area A and they feel I am unsafe or at risk, they tell me, they’d call the police to do a safe and well check. Except in my case it would be my local police force in Area B and if I needed to be taken to hospital it would be in Area B. I really don’t have any issue with that except the local hospital will know absolutely nothing about me as I’m not their patient, yet I have a care plan and aftercare package. The same issue arises if I needed treatment for self injury or if the family became concerned and took my to hospital themselves, I’d go to my local hospital and again we would encounter the same problem.

This week the letter we have waited for finally arrived, but it wasn’t what I or anyone else was expecting, because much to our dismay we are now told that new guidance regarding funding has been issued. This new guidance potentially has huge implications not just for me but for many other people too.

Last August revised guidance was issued to CCG’s the document entitled ‘Who Pays’ gives guidance as to determining responsibility for payments under continuing health care. My funding falls under such guidance and thus the current CCG and Local Authority (Area A) are now trying to establish if they or my local CCG and Council (Area B)) should be paying for my aftercare.

Having tried to find out more about the ‘Who Pays’ guidance I can honestly say the legislation is a minefield, the legalese that abounds in it is unbelievable. Yet this guidance could determine which funding panel is going to be analysing my care needs and a huge bill landing upon the desk of one CCG and Council whilst another CCG and Council will have huge cost savings.

Now all of this may not impact my care, but I cannot be certain and in the meantime the confusion continues in relation to current day out of hours cover etc. This past year we have faced a funding minefield, just to get an agreement for psychology. If you know the funding processes of health you will understand some of the difficulties we have endured. Funding Panel meets, fail to make a decision instead asking for further information, and then you have to wait for another panel meeting. Months go by before that next meeting happens and when they meet they still don’t make a decision. Meanwhile as a service user your left to wander aimlessly without the care you need and no one cares if you start to go downhill.

It took over eight months to get a simply decision and the cost implications were neutral, it is only in the last 6months that I have finally got my care package sorted, there is no way I want to jeopardise this and yet this piece of guidance which is impossible to read and fully understand could cause chaos. If my funders change I cannot be certain the new funders will agree with my current care needs, will they honour the contracts currently in place, they might insist on changes that are detrimental to my ongoing progress.

Its worrying not just for myself but for all the other people this could affect, if your s117 aftercare is being funded by the wrong CCG you could be faced with the uncertainty that follows. I cannot imagine my local CCG (Area B) willingly welcoming me, a patient with a care package which will impact upon their budget. I can’t be certain that they won’t want to review everything or look at cost savings any way they can.

For now I’m left in limbo waiting for the CCG in Area A to decide if they should be funding my care, until then everything else stands waiting. The bureaucracy that abounds is ridiculous and if the CCG is finding it confusing what chance do I have to understanding this. I wonder if those who produced this guidance thought about the implications for people under section 117 aftercare, I very much doubt it.

I apologise if this bog is confusing, if by any chance you understand the ‘Who Pays’ guidance and the impact it has upon s117 please can you contact us, any help will be gratefully received.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014

 

 

 

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “Section 117 aftercare – Who Pays?

  1. There is a number of case law precedents on Sec117 Aftercare over the years from the 1983 MHA. There is Guiadances, notes in the Code of Practices and numerous publications including Jones. The Law I believe overrides CCG guidance. Number of law firms should be able to assist you. Let me know how you get on. @careif

    • Albert thanks for the advice I will let you know how we get on. I think it will be an interesting discussion between the 2 CCG’s involved. Hopefully the law will protect us and allow the care package to stay the same even if our funders change. Having legal support will help us with this I guess. I appreciate your feedback.

  2. I am sorry I can’t enlighten you on the ‘Who Pays’ guidance, but I have been in a longstanding battle with an NHS Trust about their poor care of a vulnerable neighbour and the best (ONLY) help I found was via the Advocacy Service SEAP. They don’t cover all areas of Britain but there are other Advocacy Organisations and I am sure they would give you a recommendation. The woman I have helping me is exceptionally knowledgeable and they are completely impartial so they work only in your best interests. Other organisations I contacted that are public funded have proven to be less than impartial despite the fact they claim to be consumer champions and I wasted a lot of time and energy on contacting them, only to end up bitterly disappointed.

    If I think of anything else I will let you know and in the meantime I wish you lots of luck.

    Best wishes,

    Keyna

  3. You’re right, it is a labyrinth of the most complex kind, and I’m a mental health professional!
    My understanding is that the local authority responsibilities haven’t changed (the responsible local authority is the one in which you were living when you were detained on section 3) but the new ‘Who Pays’ guidance, issued last year changes the responsible CCG from the one where you were living when you were detained on s3, to the one in which your current GP is located.
    This is laid out in (wait for it…) The National Health Service Commissioning Board and Clinical Commissioning Groups (Responsibilities and Standing Rules) Regulations 2012 (regulation 14).
    It looks like the change has been created by section 13(3) of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act
    This act amends the 2006 National Health Service Act, by creating a new section 3(1A).
    BUT – I’m not sure whether this section 3(1A) is yet fully in force (sometimes acts are only brought into force gradually, a few bits at a time). The government’s legislation website suggests it is only partly in force.
    Now I have to say that I’m not a legal professional, and this is what I’ve managed to research using the http://www.legislation.gov.uk website and the latest Who Pays guidance.
    I’d echo others in getting formal legal advice, and also threatening the CCGs with the Ombudsman, as all the guidance around disputes of any sort between agencies suggests that service users/patients should not be disadvantaged by territorial disputes.
    Good luck!

  4. I hope you get this sorted soon and section 117 funding does seem a minefield. Like you say the timescales between decisions are really unhelpful. I was sectioned on a 3 maybe 4 years ago & tried numerous times to get clear info on what it would actually fund. Finally persuaded my care coordinator to apply for funding that was July last year. In January we sat down and wrote down my needs. He still has not entered it onto the relevant system for consideration. Meanwhile I’ve been section 2′d twice in the last month. Apparently filling out all the info takes at least half a day and I was 3rd on his list. A ridiculous system which no one relevant really seems to know all about. I hope you get sorted soon – stressful situations like this don’t help.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s