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Personal health budgets to be rolled out
Monday 03 December 2012
Budgets could give people with a learning disability control of their healthcare
On Friday (30 November), care services minister Norman Lamb announced the roll out of personal health budgets for NHS patients in England.
Personal health budgets will be used in a similar way to the personal budgets that many people with a learning disability use to pay for social care services over the last decade.
Using personal health budgets, individuals will be able to tailor their own package of care from clinicians and others, using an agreed amount of money. At the centre of personal health budgets is a care plan, which sets out the person’s health needs, the money available and how it will be spent.
Over the last three years, the government has been conducting in-depth pilots of personal health budgets at 20 sites. Its evaluation report, published on Friday, found that the quality of life for people using them has improved. In some cases, individuals saw a drop in their hospital attendance.
Higher health needs
The report indicates that personal health budgets particularly benefit those with the highest health needs. People with a learning disability are among this group – often experiencing poorer health than the general population.
Mencap believes that personal health budgets could be useful to people with a learning disability, so long as:
- they have access to independent advocacy support to help them to understand their budget and the options available to them
- information is available in easy read
- the budget they are given is sufficient to meet their assessed health needs.
Personal health budgets will initially be targeted at people who currently get NHS continuing healthcare. Ministers hope that by April 2014, they will be made available for the 56,000 people currently on NHS Continuing Healthcare.
Announcing the roll out of personal budgets, the care services 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.”
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, Dan Scorer, Mencap’s senior campaigns and policy manager, said: “For people with a learning disability, we think this gives people the control over the NHS services that they need.”
However, he warned that people with a learning disability need appropriate support and access to clear information to make sure that they understand personal health budgets and make the right decisions about their healthcare.
Find out more about personal health budgets