man in a wheelchair with woman

A change in law will enable everyone eligible for an NHS wheelchair to be able to access a personal health budget before the end of the year as the Department of Health and Social Care ramps up the initiative’s rollout.

The change in the law which comes into force on Monday 2nd December will see more than 100,000 more people given access to personal health budgets as the Government works towards its goal of increasing access to 200,000 people by 2024.

Part of the NHS Long Term Plan, personal health budgets aim to provide disabled people and those with long-term physical and mental health conditions more choice over how their personal healthcare allowances are spent.

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With currently more than 70,000 people already benefiting from personal health budgets, the new legislation will open up access to everyone eligible for an NHS wheelchair and people who require aftercare services under section 117 of the Mental Health Act.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said: “Everyone deserves the right to make decisions about their care, and health and care should be centred around each and every one of us, not a one-size-fits-all approach.

“Our NHS Long Term Plan has personalised care at its core. This important piece of legislation puts the power back in the hands of more people, transforming the wellbeing and quality of life for thousands while also reducing distressing and avoidable hospital trips.”

Personal health budgets are planned and agreed between individuals and clinicians, giving people greater choice, flexibility and control over their health and care support, with those receiving the budgets being able to use the budget to purchase specially adapted wheelchairs for example.

“Now that the right to Personal Wheelchair Budgets has been enshrined in law, we hope that all wheelchair services will adopt a truly holistic approach to the needs of disabled people, and give wheelchair users the control that they deserve.” Ruth Owen OBE

Last year, the Department of Health & Social Care and NHS England consulted on extending the right to a personal health budget, with the consultation revealing strong support as nearly nine out of 10 respondents supported the proposals.

Responding to the news that legislation has been laid extending the legal right to Personal Budgets, Ruth Owen OBE, Chief Executive of Whizz-Kidz, said: “Whizz-Kidz has long championed personal wheelchair budgets as we believe disabled people should have the right to actively choose the wheelchair best suited to their lives.

“Through our partnership with the NHS in Tower Hamlets, we already successfully deliver personal wheelchair budgets to help disabled people get the wheelchair they need, when they need it.

“Now that the right to Personal Wheelchair Budgets has been enshrined in law, we hope that all wheelchair services will adopt a truly holistic approach to the needs of disabled people, and give wheelchair users the control that they deserve.”

Following the announcement, the NHS says it will continue to explore a further extension of legal rights to other groups covered in the consultation as appropriate, including people with ongoing mental health needs and those with learning disabilities.

Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage said: “I’ve seen for myself how personal health budgets are giving people a new lease of life, opening up possibilities to let them live their lives fully.

“This extension of legal rights will give many more people independence, a say in how they’re cared for, improving their experiences while ensuring value for money for taxpayers.

“This is an important step in our NHS Long Term Plan’s ambition to see personalised care become the norm for thousands more across the country.”

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