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Government plan to expand 'right to personal health budgets'

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The Department of Health & Social Care has launched a consultation to significantly extend the scope of personal health budgets in England, Health Service Journal reports.

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The DHSC said personal health budgets have reduced the costs of NHS continuing healthcare packages by 17%.

In the consultation document, published last week, the government proposed the “right to have” personal health budgets be extended to five new patient groups:

  • people with ongoing social care needs;
  • those eligible for section 117 aftercare services and who make ongoing use of community mental health services;
  • those leaving the armed forces;
  • people with a learning disability, autism or both; and
  • people who access wheelchair services whose posture and mobility needs impact their wider health and social care needs.

Currently only people receiving continuing healthcare funding have an explicit right to a personal health budget, though clinical commissioning groups can offer personal health budgets to other groups.

People can receive a personal budget in three ways:

  • a notional budget where the council or NHS arranges their care;
  • a third party budget where an organisation that is not the NHS or council manages the budget; or
  • direct payment where the budget holder has the money transferred directly into their bank account.

The DHSC has proposed that people who have an explicit right to a personal or integrated health budget also have the explicit right to receive it via direct payment.

The DHSC also said: “More recent evidence gathered as part of the NHS continuing healthcare strategic improvement programme shows that personal health budgets have reduced costs of NHS continuing healthcare home care packages by an average of 17 per cent.”

The consultation will run until 8 June.

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