BMA calls for delay in personal health budgets roll out

BMA leaders have backed the RCGP in calling for the roll out of personal health budgets to be delayed until a public awareness campaign has taken place.

BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter: doctors need more evidence of benefits to patients
BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter: doctors need more evidence of benefits to patients

A survey of 200 BMA members found doctors have no clear understanding of how the plans, which will allow patients to organise and buy their own care, will benefit patients.

The survey revealed that seven out of ten doctors feel they are not very well informed or not informed at all about the introduction of personal health budgets.

In July, the RCGP said that although personal health budgets could improve care and shared decision-making in some patients, the government had yet to address many 'challenges' with the proposals.

BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter said: ‘Doctors are yet to be convinced of the benefit of personal health budgets and have a number of doubts about their clinical and financial implications. It is particularly concerning that there appears to be a real lack of knowledge among doctors about this significant government policy so close to a potential roll-out.

‘Nevertheless, there is recognition that personal health budgets could have benefits for patients with long-term conditions. In principle, empowering individuals to play an active role in decisions around their care, in partnership with their doctors, offers a real opportunity to make the NHS more responsive to individual needs.

‘If patients are to feel fully supported, roll-out of personal health budgets should be delayed so that the NHS can carry out a wide-ranging information campaign that informs doctors and other healthcare professionals. More evidence must also be presented.'

A DH spokeswoman said a report would be published 'soon' evaluating personal health budget pilots. ‘This and the wider learning from the pilot programme will inform the future direction of personal health budgets,' she said.

‘We know that more information for doctors and patients will be crucial if personal health budgets are to be rolled out following the independent evaluation, and we will look carefully at the findings of this survey.’

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