From tomorrow (1 April 2014), everyone eligible for on-going treatment and support for a complex medical condition has the right to ask for a personal health budget. That includes the option of asking for direct payments to be made to them, or to someone who looks after them. Then, with the help of local NHS professionals in putting together an individual care plan, each person can choose how to use their allocated budget for a tailored package of health services.
Each patient will be able to get a range of help that is appropriate to them and their condition – such as clinical treatments, therapies, personal care and equipment – from NHS, private and voluntary sector providers. Or the personal healthcare budget can carry on funding the healthcare and support that is already working well for them, if they don’t want to make changes.
“Personal budgets are not entirely new. Some people already have the benefit of direct payments for social care, and continuing healthcare is the right place to start with personal health budgets. It is one of the few areas where the NHS commissions healthcare person-by-person,” said Lisa Llewellyn, Director of Nursing and Clinical Quality at NE Essex CCG. “We have learned from pilots across the
NHS organisations in Essex are working in partnership with ecdp, an organisation run by and for disabled people, to help introduce the new approach. edcp has a pioneering track record in supporting disabled people at local, regional and national levels and has worked with a number of local authorities to help people to manage direct payments.
Mike Adams, chief executive of ecdp, said: “Along with the NHS, we recognise that the individual is the expert in how a health condition affects his or her life. Personal health budgets offer the opportunity for people to work in partnership with the NHS on how their health needs can best be met. Many people have said that being fully involved in discussions and decisions with their healthcare professionals is the right thing and will make them more positive about the care and support they receive, and better in control of their quality of life. The benefits seemed to be felt more strongly by people with the highest health needs.
Mike added: “You can manage the care and support you choose in different ways, ranging from doing this yourself through to getting help from another person, or from an organisation like ecdp to implement what’s in your care plan on your behalf. You can review and update your choices with your local NHS team when you need to, for example if your health changes or something in your plan isn’t working for you. You can also continue to receive the support in the same way as now if that is your preference.”
People who want to consider whether a personal health budget might be right for them should speak to their healthcare professionals – GP or practice nurse, district nurse or a member of their Continuing Care Team. There is also more information about personal health budgets on the NHS Choices website at www.nhs.uk/personalhealthbudgets