Integrated services support growth of Personal Health Budgets

By - Integrated Care Journal
Integrated services support growth of Personal Health Budgets

More than 50,000 people have taken charge of their own care after being handed control of how their NHS funding is spent.

Personal Health Budgets can be used to purchase personalised wheelchairs, assistance dogs and respite care to manage complex health problems, as well as tech devices that can control curtains, lighting, heating and door intercoms to help people live independent lives.

The rollout of the Budgets across the country is two years ahead of scheme and being ramped up further as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.

The latest figures published by NHS England show that 54,143 people with long-term health problems, including disabled people and those with long-term physical and mental health conditions, are currently benefiting from the programme.

At least 200,000 people will be given the chance to improve their health and wellbeing by using Personal Health Budgets within the next five years.

The vast majority of Personal Health Budget spending goes on the provision of direct care and support, such as help with washing, eating, dressing and other aspects of essential personal care. However, the spending packages also foster investment in new technology, with patients able to request modified and improved support like personalised wheelchairs.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England and Improvement, called the programme 'enabling' to patients who 'take direct control of their own care. ' 

Meanwhile, James Sanderson, Director of Personalised Care Group, NHS England, added that "a one-size-fits-all health and care system simply cannot meet the increasing complexity of people’s needs and expectations."

This innovative approach to care delivery, intended to boost control of care for patients and mobilise the benefits of integrated care shows "what can be achieved with strong local partnerships between CCGs, local authorities, providers and the voluntary and community sector," says James.

How do PHBs work?

Personalised care sees GPs and local agencies working with patients who often have multiple long-term health conditions to make decisions about managing their health and care, by asking what matters to that individual rather than just what’s wrong with them.

Together, they create a personalised care and support plan, and agree how their personalised health budget will best be spent to help improve their health and wellbeing. The budget can integrate health and social care funding and join up these services at a local level.

There is a growing evidence base that people achieve better outcomes with a PHB, they are spent almost exclusively on essential care and they save the NHS money over time.

Success stories

PHBs have been used to support: 

  • A Worcestershire boy with profound and multiple learning disabilities and severe epilepsy. The PHB pays for a carer to look after him at his home, help manage his medication and to feed him. It means he has not needed to be placed in residential care miles from home. It has transformed his life and has saved the NHS money.
  • A woman in Northampton, who is deafblind and suffers with severe osteo-arthritis. The PHB has allowed her to hire a personal assistant to accompany her and be her ears and eyes when she is out, helping her to stay active safely and cope with the pain caused by her arthritis.
  • A skilled engineer from Lincolnshire, who was left paraplegic after a motorcycle accident. He uses his personal health budget to pay for mechanical parts so he can build high-specification customised power wheelchairs for himself, to help avoid muscle spasms and to maintain his active lifestyle.
  • A patient who has invested in an assistance dog, who has knowledge of more than 200 commands and can alert her to an epileptic seizure, predict hypo and hyperglycaemic attacks and even open the door for paramedics. She no longer requires physiotherapy and visits the GP less often.

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