The new individual health budgets give patients the opportunity to work in equal partnership with the NHS in order to achieve a continuing health care plan that is right for them. Patients are given greater choice and control over their health care.
Individual health budgets are the amount of money required to effectively manage an individual's condition, ensuring that the right kind of health care is available and that the person's needs are met. The amount is agreed between the patient (or their representative) and their local NHS team. It can be used to pay for things like therapies, equipment and personal care. Personal health budgets do not mean changes to the care and support that a patient is already receiving, but they do open up opportunities to explore health care options that may be more effective.
There are different ways that an individual can manage their budgets. One option is that they receive the continuing healthcare funding directly in order to buy the necessary health care and support they need from the local NHS team. The patient or their representative must manage the services effectively, and be able to provide evidence as to where the money has been spent. Another option is to outsource health budgets to a third party. The budget will be held by the organization and they will help the patient decide what they need. Once this has been agreed by the local NHS team, the organization will buy the selected care and support on behalf of the patient, thus removing the aspect of them dealing with financial matters.
When in receipt of their budget, a patient takes on the role of an employer. In effect, the patient employs healthcare workers and support workers with their continuing healthcare funding. Many patients will have no experience of employment legislation and the tax and insurances that must be in place in order to legally employ a person. This is where the management of personal health budgets by a third party would be beneficial to the patient, removing any element of stress and worry that may be detrimental to the individual's health.
Specialist companies that assist in managing individual health budgets can help a service user manage their own personal health budget. They take on the everyday management of payslip provision, wages, tax issues and general administration in order to remove the burden from the patient. They can also arrange for personal health loans to be paid directly to them from the local council, to avoid using the patient's personal bank account. Alternately, the patient can receive the budget themselves and then in turn employ the services of a company that manages personal health budgets to deal with the financial matters. Whichever option the service user chooses, they can expect to receive a high standard of service and support from one of the professional leading service providers.