Paying for your healthcare the NHS ‘personal budget’ way

Paying for your healthcare the NHS ‘personal budget’ way

2nd October 2014

The opportunity for people to choose their own healthcare provision is coming to Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. From 1 October patients with long-term healthcare needs will have the option to spend their own personal health budget (PHB) on the care which they feel best supports their individual requirements.

Patients will be able to select services that are more convenient, supplied by the organisations or people that they have chosen, and are closer to home. It will also allow health care budgets to be spent in new and creative ways that are helpful to individual patients. This is a whole new approach and puts the patient firmly in control of managing their own health care.

Dr Dave Briggs, of East Leicestershire and Rutland Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This is about widening patients’ rights to choose how they receive their care. Personal health budgets give people more independence over how their healthcare money is spent, which could be on carers to provide intensive help at home, equipment to improve quality of life or approved therapies.”                                                                                             

Barbara Howard, Director of Mosaic, a charitable organisation dedicated to shaping disability services, said; “I believe this will make such a difference to people’s quality of life, their sense of wellbeing and independence, and help them stay out of hospital.”

The first group of patients who will be eligible for a PHB are those with long-term health needs due to serious illness or injury who have been assessed as qualifying for 100% NHS-funded Continuing Healthcare. Some people have already started applying for their budgets.

Individual patients will meet with their PHB support team to create a detailed support plan together. A personal health budget can be managed in any one of three ways. It can be given to a patient or individual responsible for the patient as a direct payment - social care recipients already have these. Alternatively, the money can be held by an approved third party. These are organisations which will help to agree the care that is needed for the patient, arrange it and hold the budget. Finally it can be held as a notional sum which a patient’s NHS team will spend in line with the patient’s agreed wishes.

It’s important to note that the patient will know how much money their care costs, and how it will be spent even if it is a notional budget.The scheme is being rolled out across the country after the budgets were trialled in a national pilot programme. Personal health budgets are not new money – they are a way of using NHS money differently, where people want to and where it is clinically safe to put them in control of their care. Taking up a personal health budget is optional, and anyone who does not want to manage their healthcare needs in this way can leave their care arrangements as they are now.