A Personal Health Budget allows patients with long term health conditions more say on how the money is spent on their care, and on the services they receive.
In Islington, Personal Health Budgets have only been available for Multiple Sclerosis patients and for patients with complex needs who receive NHS Continuing Healthcare. However this year they are being trialled with patients with long term health conditions who also have a mental health diagnosis and a social care need. If it goes well, Personal Health Budgets will be made available for other people with complex health and care needs.
We interviewed 63 residents with long term conditions who did not have English as a first language. Personal Health Budgets could have even more benefit for some of these residents, as people would have the freedom to employ care staff who speak their first language. Most of the people we spoke to had never heard of Personal Health Budgets. We asked them whether they thought they were a good idea. Although not everybody was comfortable with it, feedback was mainly positive.
'Being able to access equipment such as an oxygen machine would have a good impact on my health. My main worry about having a personal budget is that I would not know what was available, and may not have enough information about what was best for my health conditions.'
- 38 people said they would organise their care differently if they had a Personal Health Budget.
- They said it would give them greater choice and flexibility, the convenience of receiving the budget direct into their bank account, and the possibility of employing family members who know their needs and preferences.
- The activity mentioned most often when people talked about how they might use a Personal Health Budget, was going to gym classes, or hiring a personal trainer.
- About one third of the respondents expressed reservations about managing the budget.
'Some of the disadvantages could be cost, waste, bureaucracy, fear of choosing the wrong therapy, responsibility for making the right choices, and being unable to return [to the previous arrangement] if I change my mind about having a budget.'
Our full report summarises all the feedback we received.
If you have a Personal Health Budget you can have someone else manage the budget for you, a friend, family member, or carer. You can also get support to help you make decisions about how to spend the money. If you are eligible for a Personal Health Budget you don’t have to have one. If you do choose to have one, you can change your mind at any time.
If you would like to find out more about Personal Health Budgets and see if you might be eligible for one, talk to your health or social care professional. This might be your doctor, nurse or your social worker.