NHS commissioning groups are set to be given more freedom and encouraged to think creatively in how they dish out funding, which will grant them extra flexibility when specifying mobility equipment for patients’ needs.
The additional flexibility comes as a result of the new personal wheelchair budget system, set to be introduced fully in April, which could see more CCGs offering higher-spec models of wheelchairs and powerchairs, if it is appropriate for the patient.
Kate Buffery, who is in charge of phasing in the the NHS’s new system, told AMP that one of the issues services previously had was that providers often felt constrained and confined by what they could do to support people.
CCGs and the providers they work with, therefore, are likely to see a noticeable difference in the way they operate. And given that they have been working with effectively the same wheelchair services model for the past 20-years, any alterations are going to be closely watched by healthcare groups.
But for Buffery, the new system ought to be welcome news for the NHS, CCGs and providers as well as patients. She says that personalisation will not only help end-users but also the NHS because in theory people will be able to live more independently with more suitable wheelchairs.
She commented: “We’ve been looking at how our [CCG] sites can creatively improve their offers. We know there’s no new money in the system so partly this is about finding a pathway that people can still work with and allowing organisations to be more creative.
“We’re really careful to say this makes sense to the NHS as well; not all improvements have to incur costs. We’re seeing examples where it is cost-effective when someone’s whole needs have been met through using a personal wheelchair budget.”