Wheelchair with man hand forPersonal Health Budgets

Figures released by NHS England and Improvement have confirmed that 54,143 people are now in control of how their NHS funding is spent as the rollout of Personal Health Budgets ramps up.

Aiming to provide disabled people and those with long-term physical and mental health conditions more choice over how their personal healthcare allowances are spent, the new scheme is one the components of the NHS’ Long Term plan to provide more personalised care.

The latest figures come following the announcement in February that over 40,000 people were now in control of their budgets, with NHS England stating that the rollout is two years ahead of schedule and on track to have at least 200,000 using personal health budgets within the next five years.

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Decided between the individuals, clinicians and their local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), personal health budgets can be used to fund therapies, personal care and equipment in order to achieve agreed health and wellbeing outcomes.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England and Improvement, said: “These are practical but radical reforms enabling NHS patients to take direct control of their own care. While not right for everyone, for some people with long term health problems, the NHS is now offering them the opportunity to completely reshape the personal and health support they get. With over 50,000 people now choosing this route, this initiative has proven its practical benefits for patients and their families, and so will now be expanded further.”

According to the NHS, the vast majority of personal health budget spending goes on the provision of direct care and support, such as help with washing, eating, dressing, however, highlights the funding is also used to invest in new technology and equipment.

In particular, patients are able to request modified and improved support like a personalised wheelchair.

In February 2019, NHS England and Improvement confirmed that the legal right to a personal health budget is being extended to those who access wheelchair services whose posture and mobility needs impact on their wider health and social care needs.

The NHS released an example of a personal health budget being used by a skilled engineer from Lincolnshire, who was left paraplegic after a motorcycle accident. The engineer uses his personal health budget to pay for mechanical parts so he can build high-specification, customised powerchairs for himself to help avoid muscle spasms and to maintain his active lifestyle.

In addition, budgets can be spent on assistive technology devices that can help people live independent lives, such as controlling curtains, lighting, heating and door intercoms.

James Sanderson, Director of Personalised Care Group for NHS England, finished: “A one-size-fits-all health and care system simply cannot meet the increasing complexity of people’s needs and expectations.

“Instead of having their health care ‘done to’ them, people with personal health budgets are an equal and active partner in their own health care and able to make their own decisions.”

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