NHS England rolls out new personal health budget sites

Seven new sites have been set up to look at rolling out personal health budgets to people who use mental health services.

  • Devon Partnership NHS Trust and Positive Opportunities for Wellbeing CIC
  • Dorset CCG
  • South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust Addictions Clinical Academic Group
  • Stockport CCG and Stockport Local Authority
  • Southwark CCG and Southwark Local Authority
  • South Coast Kent CCG
  • South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust and Kingston CCG and Royal Borough of Kingston

Special demonstrator sites across the country will work with people using services, commissioners, GPs and other health workers to understand more about how the budgets could help keep people well.

An independent national evaluation of the Personal Health Budget (PHB) pilot programme, based on twenty pilot sites, has already shown budgets improve people’s quality of life and psychological well-being, and can help to keep them out of hospital.

These new demonstrators will show how personal health budgets could be offered to more people using mental health services within existing budgets.

Martin McShane, NHS England’s Director for Patients with Long Term Conditions, said: “Personal health budgets are new in the NHS and are a very welcome resource for people managing long term conditions.

“These budgets can improve individuals’ quality of life and well-being and reduce their use of other NHS services, including hospital care.

“The Government’s Mandate to the NHS says that by 2015 people with long term health conditions, who could benefit, will be given the option of a personal health budget.

“Recent research has now shown that people with mental health conditions can gain substantial benefits from having a personal health budget because they introduce choice and control into their care.

“The budgets allow people to choose support and treatment that will help keep them well, with the support of their doctors and nurses. We are very keen to roll out personal health budgets as far as possible, however, there are a lot of things we want to explore about how they can be sustainably scaled up in the NHS before we do this.”

A personal health budget is an amount of money to support an individual’s identified health and wellbeing needs, planned and agreed between them, or their representative, and their local NHS team.

Patients have to show what they have spent the money on and there are different ways the support can be managed, depending on how much responsibility the person wants to, or is able to take.

A personal health budget can be spent  on a variety of services, equipment or activities, which can include anything from gym memberships and college courses to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and psychotherapy, so long as it is agreed that it will help keep them well.

Alex from Northamptonshire who participated in the pilot programme used his personal health budget for his depression. He hired a personal assistant to help him manage his finances and home, as well as a sat nav, tablet computer and private counselling sessions. Together, these things helped improve his health and well-being so he only needed to see his community mental health team once a month rather than once a week.

The new demonstrator programme was launched this week at an event where people who use mental health services, healthcare professionals and NHS managers came together to discuss the successes and challenges from the pilot programme and those lying ahead. The seven sites, all looking to implement personal health budgets for mental health at scale, will spend 18 months understanding more about how the budgets can be financially sustained and encouraging their use by more CCGs, providers and clinicians.

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said: “We want everyone to have better care that is built around their individual needs. Personal health budgets are part of our drive to give people who need the most help more choice and control over their care and support.

“I’m pleased to see the work that NHS England are doing with Clinical Commissioning Groups on the use of personal health budgets within mental health services. I hope that the experience drawn from this work will help to enable the roll out of their use in mental health services across the country.”

In addition, six network sites which are less advanced but want to offer personal health budgets as an option for people using mental health services will also be set up.

The sites have a variety of additional reasons for wanting to implement the budgets including: reducing A&E attendances, helping people get treatment nearer home, helping people who misuse substances and helping people who regularly go to A&E with self-harm.

By helping people with mental health conditions to remain well and offer them alternative ways to manage crises, personal health budgets can reduce the use of other NHS services like A&E and hospital care, as the pilot programme demonstrated. The sites will be part of the personal health budget ‘Going Further Faster’ programme supported by NHS England.