Right to ‘ask’ for personal health budgets begins

People with complex health care needs from today (April 1st) have the ‘right to ask’ for a personal health budget.

The scheme is being rolled out across the country after the budgets were trialled in a national pilot programme between 2009 and 2012 at sites all over the country.

They give people more independence over how their healthcare money is spent, be that on carers to provide intensive help at home, equipment to improve quality of life or therapies like counselling.

Tim Kelsey, NHS National Director for Patients and Information, said: “We are very pleased today to launch the next step in the roll-out of personal health budgets. From today people who have significant health needs and are eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare, can ask their NHS team to provide their care through a personal health budget.

“We are also pleased that from October eligible people across England will have the right to have a personal health budget which can make a significant difference to peoples’ quality of life and help them stay out of hospital. We have been working with Clinical Commissioning Groups all over the country to ensure they are prepared to provide eligible patients with all the information they need and to provide the budgets as an option from October.”

Over the past year every CCG in England has signed up to NHS England’s support programme and more than 80 per cent have attended the Accelerated Development Programme helping them prepare to offer the budgets and support patients to plan their care.

A personal health budget is an amount of NHS money available to some people with long term conditions to meet their healthcare and wellbeing needs. People design and agree a plan with their healthcare team that shows how they will use the budget to meet their goals, which could include therapies, personal care and equipment. The budgets can be managed in the form of a notional budget, direct payments or a third party arrangement.

Personal health budgets are not new money – they are a way of using NHS money differently, where people want to and where it is clinically safe.

The budgets were trialled in a national pilot programme between 2009 and 2012 which showed that they led to better quality of life and psychological wellbeing, and, particularly for people with complex healthcare needs who use a lot of NHS services, led to a reduction in hospital use.

The Government’s Mandate to the NHS also states that from April 2015 people with long term conditions who could benefit will have the option of one. This policy is expected to be further developed in 2014/15.

NHS Continuing Healthcare is the name given to a package of care that is arranged and funded solely by the NHS for individuals who are not in hospital but have complex ongoing healthcare needs. This is a relatively small number of people, around 58,000 nationally, who have the most complex long term health needs and potentially have the most to benefit from a more personalised and flexible approach to managing their health needs. Taking up a personal health budget will be optional, and anyone who does not want to manage their healthcare needs in this way can leave their care arrangements as they are now.

The NHS England website has information, resources and individual stories.

The full evaluation can be found on the Public Health Budgets Evaluation website.