The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England are currently consulting on proposals to expand the categories of patients with a legal right to a personal health budget or an integrated personal budget, including to a large number of people living with a genetic, rare or undiagnosed condition.
A personal health budget is an amount of money allocated to an individual patient which they can then spend to meet their health and wellbeing needs, based on a plan agreed with their health care professionals. Personal health budgets do not cover GP services, unplanned hospital admissions, medicines or operations, but can otherwise be very flexible about how best to meet a person’s needs. This can also be joined with funding for social care to produce and integrated personal budget, with a single assessment of that individual’s needs and a single care and support plan.
At present, only adults receiving NHS continuing healthcare or children receiving continuing care have a specific right to have a personal health budget. DHSC and NHS England are proposing to expand this right to a number of groups including:
Similar to with social care, a personal health budget can be notional (managed by the local authority or NHS), managed by a third party, or provided to the patient or their carer in the form of a direct payment.
The Government believes that allowing patients more choice and control over their care, through use of personal health budgets, will improve outcomes by ensuring that services are tailored to people’s individual needs. Certainly availability of personal health budgets could potentially have a massive impact for many people living with genetic, rare or undiagnosed conditions, both positive and negative. A personal health budget may allow patients to experience more personalised, coordinated care, or possibly increase fragmentation of services and administrative burden for patients.
Genetic Alliance UK intends to hold a webinar exploring the potential implications of personal health budgets for our community, particularly patients who receive part of their care through specialised commissioning and part commissioned more locally. Keep an eye out for the date and sign up link. In the meantime, you can find out more about the proposals here.