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GPs doubtful of evidence for personal health budgets

By Lilian Anekwe

GPs have ‘little enthusiasm’ for the use of personal health budgets, according to research by the NHS confederation.

Their survey of over 600 healthcare professionals, including 30 GPs, shows doctors are yet to be convinced of the value of personal health budgets or that they will be of benefit to patients.

The survey found that just 28% of respondents said they have any enthusiasm for personal health budgets to be implemented.

It highlighted an absence of evidence that patient choice delivered through personal health budgets will improve health outcomes, and 53% of GPs cited lack of an evidence base for personal budgets as the major barrier to their implementation in primary care.

The Government is currently piloting personal health budgets and has given strong support for a roll-out of personal health budgets starting in 2012.

But the NHS Confederation’s mental health network and the national mental health development unit, who jointly conducted the study, called on the Department of Health to ‘acknowledge the role of evidence in its plans to implement personal health budgets and how this will be achieved by the national evaluation.’

One GP who participated in one of 60 in-depth interviews conducted as part of the research said: ‘Yes there is choice, but we are still accountable for public money and therefore if you’re going to ask for something non-evidence based it’s not going to be reasonable.

‘There is financial constraint and therefore we have to be even more aware of the fact that what we are going to spend our money on is going to produce the goods… we shouldn’t be giving them things where there isn’t evidence this isn’t going to give them good health outcomes.’

The challenge of personal health budgets GPs doubtful of evidence for personal health budgets