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Personal health budgets due next year

Starting October 2012 thousands of patients will choose their care package

Louise Prime

Wednesday, 05 October 2011

People who receive continuing NHS healthcare support will be offered the option of a personal health budget starting from next October, the health secretary has announced.

Andrew Lansley said the Government plans that, by April 2014, all of the tens of thousands of patients with complex health and care needs, who receive NHS Continuing Healthcare, will have the right to ask for a personal health budget so that they can have more choice and control over their care.

Mr Lansley said: “Personal health budgets clearly fit with the future direction of a modern NHS – an NHS which focuses on quality and gives patients more control and choice.

“They allow people to work with the NHS so that they can receive more personal, more tailored care which fit with an individual’s life and uses resources most effectively.

“This is a solution which must come as part of a cultural shift for doctors, healthcare professionals, providers and patients which sees the patient as an equal partner in decisions about their care. It will personalise the NHS and provide more integrated high quality care across health and social care.”

The pilot programme for personal health budgets includes more than 1300 people with long-term conditions, mental illness, terminal illness or receiving NHS Continuing Healthcare (free out-of-hospital care for those with high needs), who are choosing whom they wish to provide their care, and in which setting.

Twenty pilot sites are due for detailed evaluation in October 2012, and if they are shown to have been successful then people eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare – currently about 53,000 – will be the first to get personal health budgets. The value of budgets will be calculated based on a care plan agreed between patients and their doctors.

The Alzheimer’s Society’s chief executive Jeremy Hughes said: “Holding the purse strings can help people to have choice and control over their care needs. It is therefore promising to see personal budgets being rolled out to more people, including people with dementia who receive NHS Continuing Healthcare support.

“However, conditions such as dementia often put incredible strain on families and carers. Unless the system is made easy to understand and people are properly supported, the complexities of personal budgets could become the straw that breaks the camel’s back rather than the empowering tool they are intended to be.

“But if done in the right way, this could be a key milestone in the ongoing mission to create a health and social care system that works for everyone.”

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