The pilots will begin next year and consider direct payments where appropriate. The DoH believes that personal health budgets will be most likely to work for patients with fairly stable and predictable conditions who are well placed to make informed choices about their treatment, such as some of those with long-term conditions.
The government says the decision to pilot personal health budgets was influenced by a report on individual social care budgets published at the same time. The report found that, although individual budgets brought benefits in social care, there were significant challenges involved in introducing them.
Personal health budgets will, the DoH believes, improve the quality of service delivery and empower patients to have more choice and control by highlighting the benefits of personal health budgets.
The Conservatives have, however, accused the government of dithering over introducing individual budgets.
‘It is clear that the best way of breaking down health and social care barriers is to have individual budgets that extend to the relevant parts of health care’, shadow Conservative health minister Stephen O’Brien said.
‘For the sake of those with long-term, predictable conditions, the government must speed up on this.’
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