Government takes next step in trial of personal health budgets


The government has selected 68 projects across England as it gears up to test the use of personal budgets for people using health services.
The pilots – which include projects for people with long-term conditions and mental health services – will give patients more control over how money is spent on their treatment, what services they use and who provides them.
The money will initially be held by third parties on behalf of patients. But once parliament has approved measures in the new health bill, some projects will be able to give direct cash payments to patients to buy their own health services.
Lord Darzi, a health minister, said people had stated “clearly and consistently” in a consultation that they wanted more control over their healthcare. He said the new system had the potential to “improve the quality of patient experience and the effectiveness of care”.
The 68 projects have been given “provisional” status, pending a “robust assessment” by the government.
Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said personal health budgets could potentially “increase care and treatment options” for people with dementia and may lead to better joint working between health and social care.
But he warned: “The success of these trials will rely on people being supported to make the right choices with the right information. Only then can people really be put in the driving seat.”