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Personal health budgets should complement existing social care arrangements, says NHS Confederation
NHS commissioners should use a 'dual carriageway' approach to roll out personal health budgets (PHBs), ensuring they complement arrangements already used in social care, according to a new publication by the NHS Confederation.
Joint personal budgets: a new solution to the problem of integrated care? recommends NHS commissioners take full advantage of local authorities' wealth of experience of working with personal budgets to ensure their own arrangements provide the best outcomes for patients.
The paper, which is intended to stimulate discussion as personal health budget policy develops, introduces the idea of joint personal budgets for health and social care. It gives the context behind their development, explains how they might work, and lists some of the issues for consideration before they could operate on a large scale.
The paper details a ‘dual carriageway’ approach to budgets which has been piloted in a number of areas throughout England. This approach has allowed people to have a single assessment of their health and social care needs, and one budget to manage their care. It aims to provide a seamless integrated health and care package without the need for a formal pooling of budgets or structural system integration across the NHS and local authorities.
Subject to a national evaluation due to be published later this month, from April 2014, all patients eligible for continuing healthcare (CHC) will have the right to request a personal health budget. NHS commissioners will also be able to choose to offer personal health budgets for other NHS services earlier, subject to the evaluation of a two-year pilot.
Jo Webber, deputy director of policy at the NHS Confederation, said:
"For individual service users, any kind of dividing line between services provided and paid for by the NHS and by social care can seem arbitrary and bureaucratic.
"Given that the use of personal budgets in social care is so far ahead of health - £1 in every £7 spent by councils on care and support already gets spent via a personal budget – it is right for the NHS to think carefully about how it can contribute to making seamless care a reality for everyone who chooses to use a personal budget to plan their care.
"As individual health budgets roll out from this autumn, we are urging NHS commissioners to keep their focus on the individual’s experience. If it feels like a success for people, that's the best indicator of success."
The full briefing is available on the NHS Confederation's website.
Notes to Editors
The NHS Confederation represents all organisations that commission and provide NHS services. It is the only membership body to bring together and speak on behalf of the whole of the NHS. We help the NHS to guarantee high standards of care for patients and best value for taxpayers by representing our members and working together with our health and social care partners.
We make sense of the whole health system, influence health policy and deliver industry-wide support functions for the NHS.
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