In May 2016, Simon Stevens announced that NHS England would be developing a personal health budgets model for the provision of wheelchairs. This work is being led by NHS England’s Personal Health Budget Team, as part of plans for the wider expansion of personal health budgets nationally.
Since April 2017, all clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in England have been expected to start developing local personal wheelchair budget offers to replace the current wheelchair voucher system.
During 2017/18, all CCGs should publish the details of their personal wheelchair budget offer as part of their personal health budget local offer, usually available on CCG websites.
During the transitional period, wheelchair vouchers should still be made available.
A personal wheelchair budget is a resource available to support people’s choice of wheelchair, either within NHS commissioned services or outside of NHS commissioned services.
Personal wheelchair budgets aim to increase choice and control for people who access wheelchair services through:
- Providing holistic assessments that take into account people’s wider needs and how good wheelchair provision can increase independence and improve people’s health and wellbeing outcomes
- Supporting people to identify their own health and wellbeing goals
- Better integration of services around individuals by bringing together care and support agencies
- Increasing the availability of information about the choices available to people locally.
Intended benefits of personal wheelchair budgets
Personal wheelchair budgets aim to help people to access a wheelchair that meets their health and wellbeing needs and goals, as well as any specific wheelchair requirements that they have.
Replacing the current wheelchair voucher scheme with personal wheelchair budgets is intended to provide:
- A more robust framework for person centred care and support planning
- More control to people, their carers and families over the wheelchair provided
- Greater clarity for wheelchair users about choices available including funding and what that should include
- An opportunity to explore how the provision of wheelchairs can be joined with other care and support, as part of a holistic person centred care and support plan and integrated personal budgets that combine health and social care funding
Video: Increasing choice and control for wheelchair users in Gloucestershire
Staff and patients from Gloucestershire, one of the first areas to make personal wheelchair budgets available, have put together this film about the difference being made to people and services locally.
Project lead Kate Buffery has written a blog about the changes, ‘Shifting control in wheelchair services’.
Support for clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in 2017/18
In March 2017, NHS England held a series of workshops to support CCGs and their providers with personal wheelchair budget rollout from April 2017.
NHS England is continuing to provide support throughout 2017/18 by holding events and workshops to share learning and best practice, providing resources and direct support to professionals, and by developing a champion network of CCGs.
Professionals working in the NHS and local government can access resources on the Personal Health Budgets Learning Network, and further guidance will be made publically available during 2017/18. For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org.