Personal health budgets to be rolled out in England

Thousands of people in England could soon have the freedom to design their own NHS care as Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb announced the roll out of Personal Health Budgets in England today.

A Personal Health Budget is an amount of money given to someone to help them design a package of care and support from clinicians and other care providers. This means they have more control over the nature of the treatment provided instead of simply getting care ‘set out’ by the NHS.

The personal health budget programme was launched by the Department of Health in 2009 under the Labour Government and has been continued under the present Coalition Government. An independent evaluation was commissioned alongside a pilot programme with the aim of identifying whether personal health budgets ensured better health and care outcomes when compared to conventional service delivery and, if so, the best way for personal health budgets to be implemented.

The programme has been piloted at 20 in-depth sites in England for the last three years and an evaluation report published today has found that the quality of life for people using them has improved, with some even seeing a drop in their attendance at hospital. The independent assessment of personal health budgets found that:

§  People’s quality of life had improved

§  If half of the people eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare chose to take the offer of a budget, this could mean a potential saving of around £90 million

§  The amount of times people had to attend hospital decreased overall.

The benefits seemed to be felt more strongly by people with the highest health needs. As a result, personal health budgets will initially be targeted at people who are already getting NHS Continuing Care, around 56,000 people, and others who clinicians feel may benefit from the additional flexibility and control that personal health budgets offer.  The UK Government will invest £1.5 million to roll out personal health budgets across England.

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said: “Independent analysis has now shown that personal health budgets can put people back in control of their care and make a significant difference to their quality of life. It’s inspiring to hear the human stories of success that these budgets have brought to people.”

Bill Walden-Jones, Chief Executive of Welsh mental health charity Hafal, said: “Although this programme applies to England we hope that Wales will take note.

“Hafal Members know from experience that when an individual is empowered to make choices about their own care and treatment they have a far better opportunity to take charge of their lives and get what they need from services. Offering people with a serious mental illness a personal budget is an important means of achieving this.”

To read the report on personal budgets please click here.