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Personal health budgets

About personal health budgets

Personal health budgets are being introduced by the NHS to help people manage their care in a way that suits them. They have been piloted in a number of places across England and since October 2014, adults receiving NHS Continuing Healthcare and children in receipt of continuing care have had a right to have a personal health budget.

What is a personal health budget?

A personal health budget is an amount of money to support your identified health and wellbeing needs, planned and agreed between you and your local NHS team. The aim is to give people with long-term conditions and disabilities greater choice and control over the healthcare and support they receive.

Personal health budgets work in a similar way to the personal budgets that many people are already using to manage and pay for their social care.

Together with your NHS team (such as a GP) you will develop a care plan. The plan sets out your personal health and wellbeing needs, the health outcomes you want to achieve, the amount of money in the budget and how you are going to spend it. You can use a personal health budget to pay for a wide range of items and services, including therapies, personal care and equipment. This will allow you more choice and control over the health services and care you receive.

You don’t have to change any healthcare or support that is working well for you just because you get a personal health budget.

Visit the peoplehub website, where people with a personal health budget and their families and carers can talk about their personal health budget experiences. 

Who can have a personal health budget?

The first group to be able to have a personal health budget are adults getting NHS Continuing Healthcare, which is NHS-funded long-term health and personal care provided outside hospital. Children who are eligible for continuing care also have a right to have a personal health budget.

Local NHS organisations will be free to offer personal health budgets to other people if they think an individual will benefit. It is the government’s long-term aim, to introduce a right to a personal health budget for people who would benefit from it.

Can I have a personal health budget as well as a personal budget for social care and support?

Yes. If you already have a personal budget for care and support from social services and your NHS team agrees, you can also have a personal health budget and ask for both to be paid into the same account.

Do I have to have a personal health budget?

No. If having a personal health budget does not work for you, your local NHS will provide the care you need as it has always done.

What is the difference between a personal health budget, a personal budget, an individual budget and a direct payment?

  • A personal health budget is for your NHS healthcare and support needs.
  • A personal budget is for your social care and support needs.  
  • An individual budget includes your social care and support needs plus other funding, such as independent living.
  • A direct payment is one way of managing these budgets, where you get the cash to buy the agreed care and support you need.

Page last reviewed: 26/01/2015

Next review due: 26/01/2017

Key points

Personal health budgets should help people get a more personalised service from the NHS. They should not make things worse.

You do not have to have a personal health budget if you do not want one.

They enable you to have more choice and control over the care you receive.

NHS and social care organisations should work in partnership with you and with each other.

If you are not able to have a personal health budget, you can still speak to your NHS team about how your needs can be met in another way that is more personal to you.

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Media last reviewed: 25/02/2015

Next review due: 25/02/2017