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Independents' Day

Rollout of personal health budgets will save £90m, claims DH

Ministers have given the green light to the rollout of personal health budgets to millions of patients, after their evaluation of pilot schemes showed they required additional investment, but were ‘cost neutral’ overall.

The Department of Health confirmed it would roll out the budgets to all 56,000 patients receiving continuing care and anyone GPs think need more flexibility and control over their care by April 2014.

The budgets have proved controversial after patients spent NHS funds on complementary therapies, theatre tickets and manicures, but the DH claims that they will put patients ‘back in control of their care’ and make £90m in savings from rolling out the £1.5m scheme.

The DH-commissioned evaluation concluded that significant additional investment would be required by CCGs if they are to roll out the scheme. The pilots increased total costs by 22%, with that money provided in addition to conventional NHS services.

The independent evaluation of the personal budget pilots – led by the Personal Social Services Research Unit at the University of Kent - found there was a significant improvement in quality of life and the psychological well-being of patients and a reduction in hospital costs.

It also found patients used significantly more non-NHS services as result of using the personal budgets.

The evaluation found personal health budgets were cost effective, with a net monetary benefit of between £1,520 and £2,690 for the personal budgets group, compared with the control group, once the additional costs were taken into account. 

The report concluded: ‘Personal health budgets were largely cost neutral, although there was substantial variation in the level and types of costs between participants.

‘For certain categories of expenditure, the personal health budget group had slightly lower costs than the control group after correcting for baseline differences.

‘This neutral result was found where we used the relatively conservative assumption that many personal budgets were provided in addition to conventional services.’

Health minister Norman Lamb said the report showed those with the greatest needs benefited most from personal health budgets.

He said: ‘Independent analysis has now shown that personal health budgets can put people back in control of their care and make a significant difference to their quality of life.’

The rollout is to go ahead despite opposition from the RCGP and the GPC. The RCGP warned earlier this year that personal health budgets should not be used for ineffective therapies.

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the scheme would create ‘parallel services’ and questioned why they were being rolled out before CCGs took charge.

He added: ‘What it is that personal care budgets can achieve that patient sensitive commissioning cannot?’

Click here to read the report on the pilot scheme

What personal health budgets have been used for

·         Complementary therapies, sport membership, holidays, talking therapies, stroke therapy, swimming, horse-riding

·         Gym membership, personal training, exercise classes

·         Season ticket, driving lessons, musical instrument

·         Mobility scooter, travel to gym, travel for spouse to make hospital visits

·         Fridge, freezer, blender

Source: Department of Health

Readers' comments (5)

  • This has got to be the most dumb-assed policy those loons in the government have EVER dreamt up!!

    I really object to my NI contributions being frittered away on kitchen blenders and complementary therapies

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  • This is great news. So many people will now be able to avoid damaging drugs and vaccines, and use medical therapies that are safer and more effective. It is time that money spent on health was placed in the hands of patients. Perhaps we must all note that we have all paid for the NHS; and it is time that everyone was freed from the present virtual monopoly of ConMed treatment currently available within the NHS.

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  • You can make the argument both ways.

    Some individuals in charge of their spending will perhaps not spend the money in the wisest manner. 'Twas ever thus. However, if they were, for example, to buy a kitchen blender and create themselves lots of raw juices, they may well do better than whatever pills and potions the doctor dishes out. All doctors take the Hippocratic oath, and Hippocrates said let food be your medicine and let medicine be your food. Given how much non-food is in "food" these days, getting back to a basic and as raw as possible diet could deliver salvation from a lot of people. But would doctors know that, given the virtually nil time they spend in five years training looking at dietary issues?

    The medical world is littered with examples of negative reactions, although sadly is not very thorough at recording them. For those who are worried that people are going to scurry off to take "alternative" options, let's not forget that many do already, and frequently this is after the "conventional" route has failed them.

    For the anonymous commentor above,I'd like to say that I really object to my NI contributions and tax being frittered away on an array of medical drugs and vaccinations of dubious value, particularly when taken as a cocktail.

    None of this is to say that the option to take drugs or be prescribed them is to be denied to anybody. What would be startling would be that if those so apparently implacably opposed to anything alternative were to observe people who chose that option and to see what the impact was. Where it is positive, will they change their mind?

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  • lets face it, it is nothing to do with health care provisons. It is a cloak for rationing.

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  • Based on such small sample groups to make such a bold statement for savings of this magnitude, this early in the game, smacks of Procurement driven propoganda. I sense as with similar "brain waves" this will end in tears and the so called saving will become a massive financial burden once the street wise educate the masses of how to work the system.However that said I like the idea of trying out safer alternative medicines and services especially if they are free to user..... ho hum

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