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Personal health budgets: Tailoring care

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Twenty sites across England have been selected to participate in an in-depth study to see how effective Personal Health Budgets (PHBs) are in providing patients with more responsive, personalised NHS care.

A further 50 sites will provide additional qualitative data.

‘Sites are starting to move from provisional to full pilot status, via an independent evaluation of their progress so far,’ explains Dr Alison Austin, Leader of the DH’s Personal Health Budgets team. ‘Six have already had their full pilot status confirmed.’

The DH’s PHB team includes a delivery arm, which provides day-to-day support to the sites and a learning network, which allows sites to share knowledge and best practice.

Newsletters, research summaries and interim reports from the three-year evaluation will be available online.

PHBs empower people to tailor their personal care plans to their needs. There are currently two legal forms of PHB: a notional budget, which is held by the PCT who procures services on the person’s behalf, and a third party budget, which is held by an independent user trust.

The recent Health Bill has allowed a third form, direct payments, to be tested in the pilot sites. As the name suggests, direct payments give control to the individual of their own health budget. No matter what form of PHB a person uses, its effectiveness is assessed as part of their care plan review.

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