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Personal health budgets extended to wheelchair users and patients accessing mental health aftercare


By Valeria Fiore
Reporter
21 February 2019

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Wheelchair users and people who access aftercare services under the Mental Health Act will be given legal right to access a personal health budget (PHB) under plans launched today.

At present, CCGs have to offer PHBs to those in receipt of NHS Continuing Healthcare, although they are allowed to offer them to other categories on a case-by-case basis.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced that the right to have a personal health budget will be extended to wheelchair users and people who access mental health aftercare, which refers to mental health care provided to eligible patients after they have left hospital.

The decision comes after the DHSC launched a consultation in April 2018, seeking the views of the public with regards to extending access to PHBs to other groups of people.

A PHB is money given to those with long term health conditions, which allows them to have a say on how funds are spent to meet their health and wellbeing needs.

The money is ‘planned and agreed between the individual, or their representative, and the CCG’, according to NHS England.

PHBs a controversial topic

PHBs have caused some controversy in the past. As our sister publication Pulse revealed last year, patients were sometimes spending this money on luxury items such as games consoles and summerhouses.

The BMA is also unconvinced of the effectiveness of PHBs.

BMA committee on community care chair Dr Ivan Camphor said: ‘While the BMA supports patients having better control over their own care, we have a number of concerns regarding personal health budgets and their expansion, namely the lack of evidence supporting how clinically effective they are.

‘We also worry that such a system risks resulting in care inequality and ‘postcode lotteries’, whereby some patients have access to funds to spend on non-NHS services and others do not.’

However, the DHSC argues that PHBs have proved ‘successful and cost-effective in helping people with complex needs stay healthy and independent for longer’.

More people to get access to PHBs

In line with the NHS long term plan, more people will be given access to PHBs, with the ambition to make PHBs available to up to 200,000 people by 2023/24.

Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage said: ‘These budgets help to join up health and social care services, improving people’s experiences and outcomes whilst ensuring value for money for taxpayers.’

As part of the long term plan, the DHSC and NHS England also expect to expand personalised care to 2.5 million people by 2024, through measures that will also include PHBs.

NHS England recently launched its universal personalised care strategy, which sets out the actions to undertake to meet the long term plan ambition of giving people greater control over their care.

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