People with complex healthcare needs in West Lancashire are now being given more choice and control over how the money is spent on meeting their healthcare needs.
From 1 October 2014, adults who are eligible for fully funded NHS continuing healthcare and children eligible for NHS continuing care, have a right to have a personal health budget (PHB).
PHBs give people more independence over how their healthcare money is spent, be that on carers to provide intensive help at home, equipment to improve quality of life or therapies like counselling.
Dr John Caine, a local GP and chair of NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “As well as helping to keep people out of hospital, personal health budgets can have a positive impact on the quality of people’s lives.
“Personal health budgets are all about ensuring we have the flexibility in planning the care that our local community really need. The budgets will allow patients to work alongside local NHS teams to achieve their personal goals in terms of personal care and equipment.”
A PHB is an amount of NHS money available to some people with long term conditions to meet their healthcare and wellbeing needs. People design and agree a plan with their healthcare team that shows how they will use the budget to meet their goals, which could include therapies, personal care and equipment.
The budgets are not new money – they are a way of using NHS money differently, where people want to and where it is clinically safe.
The budgets were trialled in a national pilot programme between 2009 and 2012 which showed that they led to better quality of life and psychological wellbeing, and, particularly for people with complex healthcare needs who use a lot of NHS services, led to a reduction in hospital use.
NHS continuing healthcare is the name given to a package of care that is arranged and funded solely by the NHS for individuals who are not in hospital but have complex ongoing healthcare needs. This is a relatively small number of people, who have the most complex long term health needs and potentially have the most to benefit from a more personalised and flexible approach to managing their health needs.
Taking up a PHB will be completely voluntary, and anyone who does not want to manage their healthcare needs in this way can leave their care arrangements as they are now.