Personal Health Budgets (PHBs) are now being used by more than 50,000 people, of which a hefty chunk are using the money to put towards wheelchairs that better suit their needs compared to standard issue equipment.
Personal Wheelchair Budgets (PWBs) are being increasingly rolled out across NHS trusts and thousands of people have now taken them up, with an estimated 200,000 people expected to access Personal Health Budgets in the next five years.
PHBs replaced the wheelchair voucher scheme last year and have been trialled across various CCGs. The budgets can be used to purchase personalised wheelchairs and tech devices that can control curtains, lighting, heating and door intercoms.
PWBs mean that people are given more freedom to choose the type of wheelchair and equipment they have and are supported to purchase their own, more suitable chair privately, which is often higher-end and better suited to their clinical and social needs.
The rollout of the budgets across the country is two years ahead of scheme and being ramped up further as part of the NHS’ long term plan, which is generally being welcomed by the mobility industry, which sees it as an opportunity to offer more high-end equipment.
New figures published this week by NHS England show 54,143 people are currently benefiting from PHBs.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England and Improvement, said: “These are practical but radical reforms enabling NHS patients to take direct control of their own care.
“While not right for everyone, for some people with long term health problems, the NHS is now offering them the opportunity to completely reshape the personal and health support they get. With over 50,000 people now choosing this route, this initiative has proven its practical benefits for patients and their families, and so will now be expanded further.”
James Sanderson, director of personalised care group at NHS England, added: “A one-size-fits-all health and care system simply cannot meet the increasing complexity of people’s needs and expectations.
“Instead of having their health care ‘done to’ them, people with personal health budgets are an equal and active partner in their own health care and able to make their own decisions.
“More than 54,000 people now have more choice and control over their lives, which we know leads to better outcomes. This fantastic figure shows what can be achieved with strong local partnerships between CCGs, local authorities, providers and the voluntary and community sector.”
PWBs are not formed of new money, so do not cost the NHS more. They are simply a different way of spending the same money.