The personal health budgets proposed in Lord Darzi’s Next Stage Review of the NHS could lead to fragmentation and privatisation of the NHS, delegates warned.
A composite motion, Personal Health Budgets in the NHS, argues that personal budgets will merely lead to a long list of inadequate providers for patients to choose from.
It could also lead to means-testing and those who do not have the money to top-up health care could be disadvantaged.
Services such as day care centres and home care may collapse or be radically restructured when individuals do not choose existing services.
Lilian Macer, chair of UNISON’s health sector, said: ‘Lord Darzi’s Next Stage Review was supposed to improve the quality of care. But it could undermine the care provided by the NHS.
‘It raises crucial questions about personalisation, marketisation and consumerism.’
Ms Macer called for rigorous evaluation of pilot schemes currently under way to prevent personal health budgets damaging services, particularly in primary care.
‘The evaluation process of the initial early pilots must be carried out. Everyone wants patients to have the most appropriate care but that does not mean going down the consumerist road of the personal health budget.’
Delegates passed the motion unanimously.