More than 10,000 patients are set to be given a personal budget that covers both their health and social care needs from April, NHS and local government chiefs have announced.
The first wave of the combined budget scheme will see eight areas of England offer ‘high-need’ patients – including elderly people with long-term conditions, children with disabilities and their families and people with serious mental illnesses – the combined personal budget.
NHS England said the scheme – the Integrated Personal Commissioning programme – will give people with such complex care needs more control over how their individual budget is spent.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: ‘Our aim in this radical initiative is to end fragmented like-it-or-lump-it health and social care, by giving high-need individuals the power for the first time to decide on the blend of support they themselves want.
‘Integrated Personal Commissioning gives families the chance to make a reality of person-level health and social care integration, as the NHS moves beyond just asking “what’s the matter with you?” to “what matters to you?”.’
The eight sites chosen for the first wave are Barnsley, Cheshire West and Cheshire, Luton, Stockton on Tees, Tower Hamlets, Hampshire, Portsmouth and South West Consortium.
Patients with long-term conditions have already been given the right to a personal budget for their health care since last year, despite concerns during pilots of the scheme that people spent their money on non-evidence based therapies and items such as theatre tickets and frozen meals.
Some commissioners remain sceptical about their value, while social care experts have warned personal budgets tend to skew care towards more ‘pushy’ individuals and have led to spiralling costs