Individual budgets should be extended to NHS patients

Individual budgets should be extended to the NHS to give patients more control over their care, according to a report published today.

The discussion paper published by the University of Birmingham’s Health Service Management Centre, says a system of personalised budgets within the NHS could operate in a similar way to the direct payment model used in social care.

It says it is at worst “counter-productive” to encourage individual budgets in social care but rule them out in health care especially given the emphasis on joint working between the two fields.

The paper, written in conjunction with In Control, which has been piloting individual budgets in social care, suggests individualised funding in the NHS is “almost inevitable” if the principles of choice, control and patient-centred services set out in the Our Health, Our Care, Our Say white paper are to become reality.

The authors propose that individual budgets in health care be piloted in six areas, including services for people with long-term conditions, mental health, continuing care and services for people with learning disabilities.

They suggest a radical version of the proposal would include the development of national tariffs for health care, allowing patients and GPs to choose from an expanded range of providers for any given procedure.

Author Jon Glasby said: “The experience of the last ten years in social care is that people like the opportunity to take control of managing their care. Fears that people would misuse the money have been unfounded and in many ways individuals have the strongest motivation to get the best possible care for their money.”

More information

Direct payments: key study finds take-up variations

Scots direct payment laws deny service user choice, say campaigners

Essential information on individual budgets  

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