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Overhaul of NHS funded care due in April this year

18th March 2014

Under new plans to be introduced in April of this year, people who are eligible for NHS funded care can be offered a Personal Health Budget, allowing them to directly purchase resources to meet their healthcare needs.

For those that are able to successfully secure a Personal Health Budget, this could mean access to essential support such as personal carers, training, equipment to meet health needs and therapies as well as much more.

Community care and public law health partner, Paula Nash of Moore Blatch believes that the planned changes to the existing system are a positive step and will provide those entitled to support, with more control and choice over the care they purchase. Paula who frequently represents clients in dispute with Clinical Commissioning Groups over the care they are entitled to says: “This is an enormous change from the current system and whilst it has the potential for many rewards, people are unlikely to be prepared for the responsibility which lies ahead and will be unfamiliar with the process of purchasing care, there are also concerns over whether sufficient resource has been put in place on a local level to successfully introduce the new system.”

Across the UK there is an estimated 56,000 people who already qualify for NHS funded care that will become automatically eligible to ask for a Personal Health Budget in April of this year. Many other people will also become entitled subject to assessment under routine hospital discharge processes.

Paula comments: “We have already been approached by people unsure about the assessment process, as well as people who want to ensure that they are assessed correctly. This will be key to ensuring that the right budget is put in place and fully supports the range of healthcare needs for each individual.”

From April anyone entitled to a Personal Health Budget can request one, but from October people can demand an assessment and budget be put in place if they are eligible.

For anyone wanting to pursue NHS funded care, Paula briefly details the procedure below:

If you are eligible for NHS funded care, an assessment of your care needs should be carried out by your local CCG after consultation with you. Once your needs have been assessed and agreed, a care plan will be drawn up and fully costed and you will be offered a sum of money to pay for your healthcare needs, whether this is for residential care, employing carers in your own home, buying aids or medical equipment.

Once that sum of money has been allocated the Personal Health Budget can work in a number of different ways.

First option
The NHS will tell you how much money you are entitled to for your care. You say how you want the money spent and if they agree the local NHS team will arrange a care package on that basis.

Second option
The budget is held by a third party such as a charity that will look after the money for you and work with you to decide how it is spent.  They will purchase the care and support your needs on your behalf.

Third option
The final option would simply see the NHS paying you directly the money you are due, to purchase your own care and support yourself.

Paula concludes: “Personal Health Budgets aim to remove some of the current inconveniences and attempt to make care more specifically tailored to the individual, but for this to work effectively people must obtain expert advice to make sure that their health needs are assessed correctly from the outset.”

Author: Paula Barnes 

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