Healthcare budgets get personal

‘Direct payment’ of personal health budgets has moved closer with a new consultation launched by Care Services Minister Phil Hope.

Personal health budgets – including direct payments to patients – are being piloted in 70 PCTs until 2012. Their aim is to create a more personalised NHS by giving people more control over their care.

A personal health budget can be: a notional budget held by a commissioner, such as a doctor or PCT; a budget managed on the patient’s behalf by a third party, such as a charity or User Trust; or a cash payment made to the patient and managed by them (a ‘direct payment’).

Trusts are already able to offer the first two options. The consultation seeks views on how to make direct payments, as well as how to set up and evaluate direct payment pilots. It will run until 8 January 2010. The power to make direct payments is in a current Health Bill. The consultation will inform the regulations and guidance on this system.

Care Services Minister Phil Hope said: “There are some really inspiring stories already from people whose lives have been transformed by personal budgets – they get more choice and control over their own care. We want to make sure we get this right and I want everyone to have their say to make sure we do.”

Lord Darzi’s Next Stage Review announced that from 2009 there would be a pilot to test personal health budgets. Earlier this year, 70 sites across the country were granted provisional pilot status. On 8 October, Phil Hope announced that 20 of these sites will be evaluated in depth to test the effects of personal health budgets on a wide range of patients.


Phil Hope