Your Entitlement to a Personal Health Budget

Posted on: June 4th, 2014 by Tim Saunders

Disabled elderly man having a day out with his wife.As of October 2014 every person who is eligible for continuing healthcare should be offered a personal health budget. The aim of giving people (or their representatives) their own budgets to manage is to promote genuine choice and control over how your assessed care needs are met by providing you with the flexibility to choose your own care provision, within certain boundaries.

If you decide that you would like a personal health budget your Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) should work with you to set personalised care and wellbeing goals, based upon the assessed needs detailed in your care plan. The CCG will offer you an indicative budget based upon these goals. CCGs may also offer free and independent brokerage services to help you create a support plan and to find appropriate services.

Personal health budgets can be managed in different ways. For example, you may decide that you wish to receive the cash so that you can buy in and manage the care and support services that have been agreed upon in your support plan. However, you do not actually have to handle the money or manage the care yourself, if you don’t want that responsibility. Opting for a ‘notional budget’ gives you choice and control whilst leaving the complexity of employing and managing care services to the NHS.

Between 2009 and 2012 the Department of Health ran a pilot programme for personal health budgets with Oxfordshire chosen to be one of the in-depth pilot sites. Our team at Beacon were heavily involved in the pilot through Age UK Oxfordshire from the outset, which gave us the opportunity to influence key strategic decisions from an independent perspective on behalf of our clients.

There are a number of practical, administrative and cultural changes that each CCG must implement in order for them to be in a position to offer personal health budgets. Despite the progress made by the pilot sites in recent years, we have been concerned for some time that many CCGs have not moved quickly enough to put appropriate systems in place in order for them to be in a position to offer personal health budgets by October of this year.

We welcome the news this week that NHS England have awarded a further 191 Clinical Commissioning Groups £20,000 each to get personal health budgets systems up and running in their area. Nevertheless, GP Commissioning Leads are already voicing their concern that the money is a drop in the ocean compared the funding necessary to implement the required changes.

NHS England maintain that personal health budgets are not about giving people who are eligible for continuing healthcare more money, but about providing them with the support and freedom they need to use the money in a different way, with the aim being to promote genuine choice. Whilst we welcome these intentions, we have always been sceptical about the reality of increasing personal choice when individual budgets are often only just enough to meet the assessed needs of people with very intense or complex care needs. It is difficult to see how genuine choice can be achieved without individual budgets being increased.

Certainly, the take-up of personal health budgets for people who receive their care in a care home has been very low indeed in comparison to people who are looked after in their own home. This raises questions over how effective personal health budgets have been in promoting genuine choice in a care environment for the most vulnerable of our society.

For more information we recommend that you visit NHS England’s dedicated website for personal health budgets at;

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