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Law Change to Provide Thousands More with Access to Personal Health Budgets

Last Updated on 25/02/2020 by steveperry

  • 100,000 more people will be able to get tailored health and care support from December
  • Law change will help people using wheelchairs or those needing mental health support
  • Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage laid legislation in parliament today

One hundred thousand more people who use wheelchairs or need support for ongoing mental health problems will soon have the right to a personal health budget, providing them with greater choice and control when managing their own health and care.

Minister for Care, Caroline Dinenage has laid legislation in parliament today that will bring this change into force on 2 December.

From Monday 2 December, everyone eligible for an NHS wheelchair and people who require aftercare services under section 117 of the Mental Health Act, will have more control over decisions made about their care and choice of wheelchair.

Personal health budgets are planned and agreed between individuals and clinicians, giving people greater choice, flexibility and control over their health and care support.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said:

“Everyone deserves the right to make decisions about their care and health and care should be centred around each and every one of us, not a one size fits all approach.

“Our NHS Long Term Plan has personalised care at its core. This important piece of legislation puts the power back in the hands of more people, transforming the wellbeing and quality of life for thousands, while also reducing distressing and avoidable hospital trips.”

Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage said:

“I’ve seen for myself how personal health budgets are giving people a new lease of life, opening up possibilities to let them live their lives full. This extension of legal rights will give many more people independence, a say in how they’re cared for, improving their experiences while ensuring value for money for taxpayers.

“This is an important step in our NHS Long Term Plan’s ambition to see personalised care become the norm for thousands more across the country.”

The latest figures show that over 70,000 people are already benefitting from the scheme, more than twice as many as last year, helping people with complex needs stay healthy and independent for longer.

A personal health budget could be spent on:

  • Specially adapted wheelchairs designed to maximise independence
  • A choice of personal care assistants who can be specially trained to meet the individual’s needs
  • Exercise classes to help maintain a healthy lifestyle, gain confidence and reduce stress

As part of the NHS Long Term Plan, the health system will increase access so up to 200,000 people can receive one by 2024.

The move is part of the NHS Long Term Plan’s aim to expand personalised care which will be rolled out to 2.5 million people by 2024 via measures including personal health budgets and social prescribing, where people are referred by their GPs to local community or voluntary activities.

James Sanderson, Director of Personalised Care Group, NHS England said:

“This is important backing for  NHS England’s personal health budget initiative – for wheelchair users and for 70,000 others – all of whom are rightly getting choice and control over their own care.”

Whizz-Kidz Chief Executive Ruth Owen OBE said:

“Whizz-Kidz has long championed personal wheelchair budgets as we believe disabled people should have the right to actively choose the wheelchair best suited to their lives.

“Through our partnership with the NHS in Tower Hamlets, we already successfully deliver personal wheelchair budgets to help disabled people get the wheelchair they need, when they need it.

“Now that the right to Personal Wheelchair Budgets has been enshrined in law, we hope that all wheelchair services will adopt a truly holistic approach to the needs of disabled people, and give wheelchair users the control that they deserve.”

Royal College of Occupational Therapists Chief Executive Julia Scott said:

“The Royal College supports expanding personalised health budgets as they allow the person needing support more control over how their needs are met .  Personalised care is at the heart of what occupational therapists do.  Every individual is different and occupational therapists tailor their approach to each person, helping them live the lives they want to.

“Occupational therapists have a unique role to play in embedding personalised care within Health and Care as demonstrated in our report Making personalised care a reality: The role of occupational therapy, released earlier in 2019.  With occupational therapists working in both mental health and wheelchair services, this expansion of the right to have personalised budgets, will ensure they can  truly advocate for people to be active participants, in their health and care. ”

Last year the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England consulted on extending the right to a personal health budget. The consultation revealed strong support with nearly nine out of ten respondents indicating their support to the proposals.

As well as extending the legal right to wheelchair users and people eligible for free post-hospital aftercare under the Mental Health Act, the NHS will continue to explore further extension of legal rights to other groups covered in the consultation as appropriate including people with ongoing mental health needs and those with learning disabilities.

Published: 31st October 2019