What are personal health budgets?
From April 2014, anyone receiving NHS Continuing Care will be entitled to ask to receive a ‘personal health budget’ instead. A personal health budget is a sum of money allocated to you to spend on your health and wellbeing needs, as determined by an assessment.
This budget is allocated based on need and not your ability to pay (unlike ‘personal budgets’, which are funds allocated by your local authority to look after your personal care needs). You work with your local NHS team to come up with a care plan, which determines your needs and the help that you require to keep healthy.
Personal health budgets can be received in a number of different ways. You can have a ‘notional budget’, which means that you will know how much money is available to you and you work with your local team to pick the services that you require, which are then organised for you. You can also have a real budget that is kept with a third party (another organisation or trust) and they purchase the services that you require with the agreement of your local NHS team.
Finally, they can be directly paid to you in order to buy the care you need (this option is not available in all parts of England yet) as agreed in your care plan. You can then manage the services you receive and you show your local team what you are spending the money on. Money must be paid into a separate bank account and only used for purchasing the services outlined in your care plan. In some circumstances, someone else could be asked to manage the budget for you, if you are not able to.
Personal health budgets, just like personal budgets, are designed to give you more choice and control over the care services that you receive. If you get both a personal health budget and a personal budget, then in some areas you might be able to get them combined, which is likely to become more common as health and social care services become more integrated.
The personal health budgets website is a handy source of information and advice on all aspects of the system. If you are unsure of how the system could benefit you, then take a look at the real-life stories on the website, which give some great examples of how personal health budgets can be implemented.