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Personal budgets policy could lead to 'top ups', RCN warns

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A flagship government policy to give patients control of health budgets could exacerbate health inequalities, the Royal College of Nursing has warned.

In his speech last week at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, health secretary Andrew Lansley announced that personal health budgets would be available to 50,000 continuing care patients by 2014.

But the RCN said personal health budgets could lead to the “erosion of the principles of the NHS”.

The college’s head of policy Howard Catton said squeezed budgets in the NHS were tightening eligibility for continuing care.

He said giving patients control of budgets at this time would “take us closer to the place where patients will be arguing that they want to top up” state-provided care with their own money.

This would worsen health inequalities as richer people received better services, he said.

Meanwhile, a report from the NHS Confederation Mental Health Network has warned evidence that personal budgets improve outcomes, cost and patient experience must be produced before they are rolled out.

  • 2 Comments

Readers' comments (2)

  • michael stone

    Just for once I agree with the RCN about that ! This 'it could lead to top-ups and inequality' concerns me, as well.

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  • Natalie Jewell

    My experience working with learning disabilities showed me that those who shout loudest are the ones who receive. Seems to me that to give patients control of the purse strings will allow those with better education (usually those who are healthiest and always those with louder voices) to push the agenda. Which would obviously increase the health inequality gap.

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