Personal health budgets announced
Published on 30 November 2012 11:30 AM
Thousands of patients will soon have access to their own NHS personal health budgets allowing a greater degree of choice over the range of treatments available, according to care and support minister Norman Lamb. The announcement follows a successful three year pilot scheme.
Rather than simply having care set out by the NHS, patients will have more control over the type of treatment they receive. They will have to work with clinicians to decide how money should be spent to give them the best health benefit, and they can access these budgets through their local NHS.
A total of £1.5 million is being invested by ministers now, with hopes it will be available through the NHS Continuing Healthcare scheme to 56,000 people by 2014. This scheme is designed to help patients who have complex conditions and require care and support.
Mr Lamb pointed towards independent analysis that showed personal health budgets can help put people back in control of their care, and by extension, the quality of their lives.
The idea of personal budgets in social care was pioneered by charity In Control.
Age UK's Charity Director General Michelle Mitchell said the organisation 'supports the principle behind personal health budgets in extending patient choice and decision-making'.
She added: 'So long as personal health budgets are well organised and easy to use, they will help a significant number of older people to plan and be in control of their health care.'
However, she went on to highlight the importance of advice and information in implementing the plans.
She said: 'Personal health budgets will not suit everyone, and may present confusing choices for some vulnerable older people struggling with illness or dementia. It is therefore essential that everyone who wants a personal health budget is well supported with the right advice and information, and those people for whom a personal health budget would not be appropriate, should not feel pressured into taking one up.
'It is also important that practical issues such as payment systems are easy to use, especially for those older people with hearing or mobility problems, or for those who do not have ready access to a computer.'