Why I changed my mind about Personal Health Budgets

In the latest of a series of blogs about Personal Health Budgets (PHBs), Jonathan Barrow explains why he went from campaigning against them to becoming a staunch advocate:

When I first heard about personal health budgets I wasn’t immediately sold on the idea.

In Basildon, PHBs have become an option for people who use mental health services. I knew that my clinical commissioning group (CCG) was looking to offer mental health services differently, but that means change, and change means potentially taking things away.

My instinct as a union man is to suspiciously think: ‘So what are you getting rid of’?

I know that personal health budgets aren’t additional money – to offer someone a budget you need to move money from somewhere else in the system. It’s not a new pot of cash to allow people to treat themselves.

To me that sounded like cutting services and perhaps that would benefit some people but surely other would lose out. I wasn’t keen.

It’s been quite a journey but I’ve really come round to the idea of personal health budgets.

Read more of Jonathan Barrow’s blog on the Personal Health Budgets section of our website.





Jonathan Barrow

Jonathan Barrow started his working life at 13, cleaning the local supermarket at 4.30am every morning.

At 15 Jon faced a no-brainer decision, was he to finish school, or take a job in a Butchers shop? So a Butcher he was to be, well at least for a couple of years then, he says: “I found the cold just too offal.”

By 18 he was married to his best friend’s sister, living on a notorious estate, set to be a father.

With no money, and little to look forward too, he took a job working nights on the Underground.

Over the next 15 years he educated himself, gaining extensive knowledge of signalling and qualifications in management. He spent the last 20 years as an operations manager, dealing with contracts in excess of a million pounds.

In this time he suffered traumatic events – the most devastating being when he lost his mum when aged just 24, and she was only 53. His next traumatic situation came when his soul mate of 30 years, Deb, began the painful, daily battle to cope with primary progressive Multiple Sclerosis.

The method of blotting out the pain Jon had put so much faith into, resulted in him spending two years shut in his bedroom unable to cope or face the world, too frightened to leave the room.

His long journey back took five years. Along the way he gained a degree with the Open University.

Jon now takes care of his wife but, having a real desire to share his coping skills, he started up a new charitable incorporated organisation for anyone with a health condition that feels they could benefit from peer support.

After just five months in operation Jon received the 2015 Volunteering through Adversity Award from Basildon Council.