Association of Mental Health Providers

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Law Change to Provide Thousands More With Access to Personal Health Budgets

One hundred thousand more people who use wheelchairs or need support for ongoing mental health problems will soon have the right to a personal health budget, providing them with greater choice and control when managing their own health and care.

Minister for Care, Caroline Dinenage has laid legislation in parliament today that will bring this change into force on 2 December.

From Monday 2 December, everyone eligible for an NHS wheelchair and people who require aftercare services under section 117 of the Mental Health Act, will have more control over decisions made about their care and choice of wheelchair. Personal health budgets are planned and agreed between individuals and clinicians, giving people greater choice, flexibility and control over their health and care support.

Association of Mental Health Providers’ Chief Executive, Kathy Roberts, commented:

“The Association welcomes the new legislation, which will mean that around 100,000 more people will benefit over the next five years. Personal Health Budgets have much to contribute to the recovery of people with mental health conditions, enabling greater choice and control for people so that they can develop care and support that works for them in the context of their own lives. This is particularly the case for people who have experienced periods of detention under the Mental Health Act, and as a result, are eligible for aftercare under Section 117 of the Mental Health Act.

“Our members of VCSE mental health service providers look forward to supporting local commissioners to develop effective systems and processes that enable people and their families to benefit from the best of personalised care and support, and supporting people to exercise more choice and control through the extension of a right to have a personal health budget.”

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said:

“Everyone deserves the right to make decisions about their care and health and care should be centred around each and every one of us, not a one size fits all approach. Our NHS Long Term Plan has personalised care at its core. This important piece of legislation puts the power back in the hands of more people, transforming the wellbeing and quality of life for thousands, while also reducing distressing and avoidable hospital trips.”

Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage said:

“I’ve seen for myself how personal health budgets are giving people a new lease of life, opening up possibilities to let them live their lives full. This extension of legal rights will give many more people independence, a say in how they’re cared for, improving their experiences while ensuring value for money for taxpayers.

“This is an important step in our NHS Long Term Plan’s ambition to see personalised care become the norm for thousands more across the country.”

The latest figures show that over 70,000 people are already benefitting from the scheme, more than twice as many as last year, helping people with complex needs stay healthy and independent for longer.

A personal health budget could be spent on:

  • Specially adapted wheelchairs designed to maximise independence
  • A choice of personal care assistants who can be specially trained to meet the individual’s needs
  • Exercise classes to help maintain a healthy lifestyle, gain confidence and reduce stress

As part of the NHS Long Term Plan, the health system will increase access so up to 200,000 people can receive one by 2024. The move is part of the NHS Long Term Plan’s aim to expand personalised care which will be rolled out to 2.5 million people by 2024 via measures including personal health budgets and social prescribing, where people are referred by their GPs to local community or voluntary activities.

Last year the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England consulted on extending the right to a personal health budget. The consultation revealed strong support with nearly nine out of ten respondents indicating their support to the proposals.

As well as extending the legal right to wheelchair users and people eligible for free post-hospital aftercare under the Mental Health Act, the NHS will continue to explore further extension of legal rights to other groups covered in the consultation as appropriate including people with ongoing mental health needs and those with learning disabilities.

Notes to editors

  • A personal health budget is an amount of money to support a person’s identified health and wellbeing needs, planned and agreed between the person and their local NHS team or healthcare professional. It is not new money, but a different way of spending health funding to meet a person’s identified needs.
  • A personal health budget may be used for a range of things to meet agreed health and wellbeing outcomes. This can include therapies, personal care and equipment. There are some restrictions in how the budget can be spent, for example on gambling, debt repayment, alcohol, tobacco, or anything illegal.
  • Since 2014 those in receipt of NHS continuing healthcare and children receiving continuous care have had the right to a personal health budget. CCGs are able to consider other patients on a case by case basis.
  • Further extension to legal rights will continue to be explored for those groups included in the national consultation including :
    • People with ongoing social care needs, who also make regular and ongoing use of relevant NHS services and would benefit from an integrated personal budget and
    • People with a learning disability, autism or both, who are eligible for ongoing NHS care.
    • People leaving the Armed Forces, who are eligible for ongoing NHS services.
  • A person entitled to section 117 after-care if you have been in hospital under sections 3, 37, 45A, 47, or 48 of the Mental Health Act 1983.
  • The NHS recently set out its ambitions for the delivery of personalised care as part of the Long Term Plan.

For more information, please contact Dania.