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Most patients with long-term conditions ‘unprepared for personal health budgets’

More than half of patients with long-term conditions feel they would be unable to make decisions about how to spend a personal health budget, a report from a health information pressure group has claimed.

The Patient Information Forum surveyed over 1,500 people with long-term conditions and found only 43% of people felt they would ‘have enough information to make decisions on how money was spent in managing their condition, if they had more direct control over how a limited amount of money is spent’.

The survey findings come as the Government launches a further drive to introduce personal budgets into health care, with the launch of eight ‘integrated personalised commissioning’ pilots.

The pilots will see over 10,000 ‘high-need’ patients, such as elderly people with long-term conditions and children with disabilities and their families, given one budget to and choose what services they want to cover both their health and social care needs.

The Government is also making CCGs guarantee people on continuing health care are offered a personal health budget for their health care needs, following widespread adoption of such personal budgets for social care, although some CCG leaders have expressed reservations about whether the approach is cost-effective.

The Patient Information Forum said their findings showed not enough people with long-term conditions are being given the right information or support to make informed decisions about their care.

Sue Farrington, chair of the Patient Information Forum, said: ‘This research should be a wake-up call to NHS providers to ensure patients are getting access to the right information from day one. Not only does this make sense from a personal perspective, but there is also an economic case for improved patient empowerment, which should capture the NHS’s attention.

‘Among other recommendations, the Patient Information Forum is calling for information to be integrated into every patient contact and for robust local leadership to ensure this happens.’