Gosport MP backs government scheme for personal health budgets

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A SCHEME to give people ‘personal budgets’ on their healthcare has been welcomed by MP Caroline Dinenage.

Plans have been drawn up by the government to give 350,000 NHS patients funds to pay for their own healthcare.

These changes will put the power back into the hands of patients and their families,

Caroline Dinenage

Currently, only 23,000 NHS users have a personal budget.

Ms Dinenage, who is Gosport MP and minister for care, said the move would put the power back into the hands of patients and their families.

Extending the numbers of people in the scheme is part of the government’s long-term funding plan.

It is designed to allow patients with on-going illnesses such as dementia or learning difficulties the chance to tailor their own care.

Ms Dinenage said: ‘If you have complex needs our current health and social care system can be confusing.

‘It’s right people should be involved in the important decisions about how their care is delivered.

‘These changes will put the power back into the hands of patients and their families, potentially allowing up to 350,000 extra people to take up a personal health budget if they so wish.

‘This would not only improve quality of life and the care they receive, it will offer good value for money for the taxpayer and reduce pressure on emergency care by joining up health and social care services at a local level.’

Healthwatch Portsmouth has carried out as yet unpublished research on the topic.

Funding would come from both the health and social care budgets in a bid to get different aspects of care to work more closely and alleviate pressure on the emergency services and hospitals.

Personal budgets is something Portsmouth City Council has introduced for adults with learning disabilities.

Rather than their weekly care programmes and activities being strict with what the council offered, the local authority looked at what they were spending per person and offered them that budget.

Mark Stables, service manager of the Integrated Learning Disability Service, said: ‘We looked at what people wanted to do in a week, what that would cost and how we would provide that service.

‘We gave them personal budgets and, as a result, our service users are more confident and we have some lovely providers doing lovely things.’

According to Department of Health data published in 2012, patients with long term conditions made up 50 per cent of all GP appointments, 64 per cent of outpatient appointments and 70 per cent of inpatient bed delays.

Patients could use the personal budget to employ friends or relatives as carers, buy equipment or enrol in activities such as exercise classes to help with their condition.

Critics said the cash can be spent on things like holidays or holistic treatments such as aromatherapy. Others fear it could lead to the privatisation of the NHS by taking money from existing services.