Personal health budgets: the views of service users and carers

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The NHS Confederation have published a 20-page report that examines the views of mental health service users and carers on personal health budgets.

Personal health budgets are defined as the allocation of NHS funding which patients/ service users, after an assessment, are able to personally control and use for the services they choose to support their health needs. It is distinct from a personal budget, which is a similar mechanism already in widespread use by local authorities for social care needs.

The authors conducted focus groups with 58 people and asked a further 104 individuals to respond to a survey.

The main aims of this study were to find out what mental health service users and carers thought about personal health budgets, in particular:

  • Their usefulness in meeting people’s needs
  • The level of understanding and awareness about them and personalisation more widely
  • What support and information people would need if they were to take up a personal health budget

The authors conclude:

It is encouraging that the frustrations expressed by the service users and carers in this study match up to things personal health budgets are intended to improve – listening, control, integration and innovation. This shows that those working to develop personal health budgets have understood the problem correctly.

Yet very few of the people we spoke to thought personal health budgets would be an effective solution if mental health services did not radically change first. In contrast to many, they appear to see personal budgeting as something that has to follow from participatory healthcare, rather than something that allows them to demand it. This conflicts with some of the views we have encountered in our previous studies on this topic.

Personal health budgets: the views of service users and carers (PDF). NHS Confederation Mental Health Network, Aug 2011.

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Andre Tomlin

André Tomlin is an Information Scientist with 20 years experience working in evidence-based healthcare. He's worked in the NHS, for Oxford University and since 2002 as Managing Director of Minervation Ltd, a consultancy company who do clever digital stuff for charities, universities and the public sector. Most recently André has been the driving force behind the Mental Elf and the National Elf Service; an innovative digital platform that helps professionals keep up to date with simple, clear and engaging summaries of evidence-based research. André is a Trustee at the Centre for Mental Health and an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London Division of Psychiatry. He lives in Bristol, surrounded by dogs, elflings and lots of woodland!

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