Tens of thousands more people will have access to personal health budgets in the next five years, under new government plans announced today.
Over 40,000 people currently benefit from the scheme, which allows users to choose their own tailored health and care support but, as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, the health system will increase access so up to 200,000 people can receive one by 2024.
Amongst other things, a personal health budget could be spent on specially adapted wheelchairs designed to maximise independence; a choice of personal assistants who can be specially trained to meet the individual’s needs; and technology, equipment or an assistance dog.
Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage said: “I’ve seen first-hand how personal health budgets can give people a new lease of life, granting them the ability to enjoy their lives to the full. These budgets help to join up health and social care services, improving people’s experiences and outcomes whilst ensuring value for money for taxpayers.
“We are therefore extending access so many more people can benefit, a key part of our NHS Long Term plan which will see personalised care become the norm for millions more.”
The move is part of the NHS Long Term Plan’s aim to expand personalised care which will be rolled out to 2.5 million people by 2024 via measures including personal health budgets and social prescribing, where people are referred by their GPs to local community or voluntary activities.
James Sanderson, NHS England Director of Personalised Care said: “Dealing with long-term health problems means moving away from a one-size-fits-all approach, and towards more tailored care, with 1,000 social prescribing workers in GP surgeries, closer working with voluntary groups and most importantly asking patients what support they need to live independently and well.”
Care England welcomed the news, but warned that the scheme should ensure people receive the correct level of funding.
Chief executive, professor Martin Green told CHP’s sister magazine, Home Care Insight: “We welcome the rollout of personal health budgets and we hope it will enable people to make informed choices about how they want to be supported by the health and care system.
“It is important that personal budgets are set at the true cost of care and not significantly below what it costs the NHS or Local Authorities to provide care. If personal budgets are to be meaningful they have to be properly costed and not used as an excuse to reduce expenditure.”