A personal health budget is an allocation of NHS money to someone with an identified health need so that they can buy the services they think will improve certain aspects of their health and wellbeing.
From April 2014, everyone who receives NHS continuing health care funding will be able to request a personal health budget rather than receiving commissioned services. The aim is for them to have greater control over planning their care.
As the roll-out of personal health budgets proceeds in the NHS, it will be critical to monitor their take up and to closely track spending to ensure that the potential they offer to personalise care does not come at the expense of additional costs for an already cash-strapped NHS Vidhya Alakeson, report co-author
The roll-out of personal health budgets will be a challenge for commissioners and policy-makers as they determine how personal health budgets will fit within the mainstream NHS landscape.
Issues for commissioners include:
- determining the appropriate value of a personal health budget;
- decommissioning existing services to fund personal health budgets;
- developing vibrant and diverse provider markets to support personal health budgets;
- finding the money to pay for the necessary infrastructure.
For policy-makers, the areas of concern include:
- the scope of personal health budgets;
- the impact of personal health budgets on care quality;
- the longer-term financial sustainability of personal health budgets;
- the risk of a postcode lottery emerging in access to personal health budgets.
Although the personal health budget pilot programme provided clinical commissioning groups with many useful lessons, important questions remain; many of which can only be fully answered as the roll-out of personal health budgets proceeds.
Alakeson V and Rumbold B (2013) Personal health budgets: challenges for commissioners and policy-makers. Research summary. Nuffield Trust.