Thousands of patients could be set to receive personalised NHS budgets to manage their own mental or physical health conditions.
Around 350,000 people could be able to choose their treatments according their own individual budgets and bespoke care plans.
‘If you have complex needs, our current health and social care system can be confusing, so it’s right people should be involved in the important decisions about how their care is delivered,’ said Caroline Dinenage, conservative MP and minister of state.
‘These changes will put the power back into the hands of patients and their families.’
Currently, 23,000 people have personalised NHS budgets from an initial roll-out scheme.
Personalised budgets originate from the Care Act 2014, which stipulated that councils have a duty to offer a budgets following an assessment of the patient and their needs.
The government has backed the plan and Andrew McCracken, head of communications at National Voices, an umbrella charity group, says that the budgets give people choice and control over their care and are economical.
‘Personal health budgets add value to traditional statutory care. They can actually reduce costs for the health and care system, because the care and support people choose is bespoke to them, their needs and their goals.’
As it stands, patients will have three budget options available to them: notional budget – no money changes hands and the patient and their NHS team decided on their care; third party budget – an independent organisation holds the money for the patient and arranges payments and care; direct payments – the patient receives the money and buys the care they and their NHS team have decided upon.
Once a patient has received their care budget, their NHS team will periodically review their care plan with them. This means that plans can be changed and updated according to care needs, the plan can also be given up if this is the patient’s wish.
However, some have warned that the budgets might not suit all.
‘Older people in declining health with social care needs generally tell us they are not very interested in getting involved in organising the services they receive, they just want them to be effective and joined up, and delivered by kind and skilful professionals,’ said Caroline Abrahams from Age UK, a charity that works with older people.
Ms Abrahams went on to explain that there were more young people than older people taking on the option for a personal budget.
‘We think these integrated budgets may be of interest to some older people and their families but by no means all, and no one should have to take one unless they choose to and only then after it has been fully explained to them what the implications are and with the guarantee of on-going support to make the most of it,’ Ms Abrahams said.
‘For example, older people with a budget in the form of a direct payment who employ carers are likely to take on a range of legal responsibilities towards them which would not otherwise arise.’
Whether or not patients choose to have a personalised NHS budget, primary care nurses will continue to play a pivotal role in managing and arranging patient care plans.