Under government proposal hundreds of thousands of patients could be given the option of a personal healthcare budget to pay for their own care needs.
The NHS budgets, which have been backed by Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, and Simon Stevens, the Head of the NHS, will be available to people with mental health conditions and physical disabilities. Mr Hunt is preparing to lay out plans later this year to reform social care.
Currently just 23,000 NHS users have a personal health budget, but extending them across the health service is part of the government's long-term funding plan. It is thought that around 350,000 people could soon qualify for the right to select and pay for treatments they choose, if approved by their doctor. However, there has been some negativity expressed around the subject of complementary therapies and the fact that patients will be allowed to use their budget to pay for these types of treatments.
The government hopes that these new care provisions will help improve care, after complaints about current standards.
People who qualify for the personal health budget will have the option of receiving the money through a direct payment, giving the money to a third party to manage, or leaving it with the NHS to control. Some patients could be given tens of thousands of pounds.
Caroline Dinenage, the minister for care, told The Times: “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.
“These changes will put the power back into the hands of patients and their families, potentially allowing up to 350,000 extra people to take up a personal health budget if they so wish.”
Dinenage said: “This would not only improve quality of life and the care they receive, it will offer good value for money for the taxpayer and reduce pressure on emergency care by joining up health and social care services at a local level.
“As the health and social care secretary set out in his speech last month, we’re determined to focus care around the person, and this will form one of the key principles of reform for the sector in a green paper published this summer.”
Commenting on what this could mean to for people with multiple sclerosis, Amy Woolfe, CEO of MS-UK, said: “Personal health budgets hold the potential to truly put patients’ choice at the heart of their health and social care needs. Patients are, after all the expert on themselves. However, there is no new money in the NHS. We remain hopeful that the right balance will be struck between the NHS’ need to spend money more effectively against ensuring health and social care is specifically tailored for every individual. Expanding public health budgets to wider populations, should they be successfully delivered, can only be a good thing.”
The Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England have launched a consultation on extending the legal rights to have a personal health budget or integrated personal budget. They are seeking views from professionals and the public on extending rights to a range of people. To provide your thoughts click here. The consultation process will close on the 08 June 2018.
Source: MS-UK 16/04/18