Wheelchair users and people who access aftercare services under the Mental Health Act will soon have a right to a personal health budget, the government has announced.
Personal health budgets allow people to choose their own health and care support, which could include:
- specially adapted wheelchairs designed to maximise independence
- a choice of personal assistants who can be specially trained to meet the individual’s needs
- technology, equipment or even an assistance dog to reduce the need for support from a carer
Over 40,000 people currently benefit from personal health budgets, and the government plans to increase this to up to 200,000 people by 2024.
As well as extending the legal right to wheelchair users and people who access aftercare services under the Mental Health Act, the government will look to give personal health budgets to:
- people with ongoing mental health needs
- autistic people
- people with learning disabilities
- people receiving adult social care support
Personal health budgets are planned and agreed between individuals and clinicians, giving people greater choice, flexibility and control over their health and care support.
They have also been shown to join up health and social care services in local areas and to help reduce pressure on emergency care.
Last year the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England consulted on extending the right to a personal health budget. Nearly 9 out of 10 respondents supported the proposals.
Increasing access to personal health budgets is part of the NHS Long Term Plan, which aims to extend personalised care to 2.5 million people by 2024. This will partly be achieved through personal health budgets and social prescribing, which is when people are referred by their GPs to local community or voluntary activities.
Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage said: "I’ve seen first-hand how personal health budgets can give people a new lease of life, granting them the ability to enjoy their lives to the full. These budgets help to join up health and social care services, improving people’s experiences and outcomes whilst ensuring value for money for taxpayers.
"We are therefore extending access so many more people can benefit, a key part of our NHS Long Term Plan which will see personalised care become the norm for millions more."
James Sanderson, NHS England Director of Personalised Care, said: "The NHS Long Term Plan will see more than 2.5 million patients benefit from measures like personal health budgets and social prescribing, which mean people have more choice and control over their health, wellbeing and treatment.
"Dealing with long-term health problems means moving away from a one-size-fits-all approach, and towards more tailored care, with 1,000 social prescribing workers in GP surgeries, closer working with voluntary groups and most importantly asking patients what support they need to live independently and well."