Thursday, November 15, 2007

Justice - alive and well?

I spent the afternoon today with staff of the Kent and Medway Mental Health Partnership Trust, finding out about the service and its problems.  Despite funding shortages, despite an ever growing client bank, these staff improve the outcomes for hundreds of people with various mental health issues.

One thing stood out for me - Section 117.  What's Section 117?

Kent has long had a problem with other counties placing people from their area into ours for social care.  Although they create pressure on our capacity, we usually manage to get the costs covered. But not with Section 117...

If, during their stay in Kent, an individual's mental health deteriorates to the point where they need to be "detained" under the Mental Health Act, then KCC automatically becomes responsible and liable for the entire cost of their care.  This responsibility then continues until either they no longer need treatment, or until they die.  And as someone told me this afternoon, "that's often one and the same".  There's no payback, no appeal, no reimbursement from Government.

I was told of one case where a patient crossed into Kent from a London Borough with the express intention of harming their ex-spouse; was apprehended and "detained", at which point KCC then became liable for the care of this individual, who for the last five years has been detained in an institution which costs Kent over four hundred pounds each and every day.

And where is the institution for which Kent council tax payers are footing the bill?

Back in the London borough where they came from...

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