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More patients to be given control of personal health budgets from April under ‘radical’ plans

Patients with long-term conditions, serious mental health conditions or learning difficulties will be given control of their own budgets to improve their health and care from April next year, the NHS England chief executive will announce later today.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Local Government Association in Bournemouth, Simon Stevens will say that CCGs and local authorities will fund personal health budgets for patients, which will be key to keeping people with continuing care needs, including the elderly and frail, out of hospital.

Think-tanks have proposed that GPs should control the administration of the scheme, but it is likely that patient will be able to delegate control of their budget.

A statement from NHS England said: ‘The NHS will offer local councils across England a radical new option in which individuals could control their combined health and social care… At the same time, voluntary/Third Sector organisations will be commissioned locally to support personal care planning, advocacy and service ‘brokerage’ for these individuals enrolled in the IPC programme.

Mr Stevens will say that patients must be given ‘real power to shape their own care’.  

He will say: ‘If Beveridge was alive today he’d clock the fact that – given half a chance – people themselves can be the best ‘integrators’ of the health and social care they are offered.’ 

‘We need to stop treating people as a collection of health problems or treatments. We need to treat to them as individuals whose needs and preferences should be seen in the round and whose choices shape services, not the other way round.’ 

The scheme has come under fire from GPs after pilot schemes allowed patients to spend them on non-traditional services including  theatre tickets, ready meals and complementary therapies.

More recently, Pulse reported that academics have said PHBs are not a ‘magic bullet’ for patients or the NHS and that only the more ‘assertive’ patients will realise the scheme’s benefits.