nhsconfedOrganisations introducing personal health budgets in mental health need to be prepared for change as patients opt to spend money on non-traditional treatments such as training courses and help around the home, according to a new briefing paper from the NHS Confederation.

'Personal budgets in Mental Health – Key points on implementation' was published in partnership with Think Local Act Personal (TLAP), a national partnership body promoting person-centred care, and highlights ‘innovative examples from across the country of where personal budgets are used in mental health’.

Personal health budgets give people a greater say in how money for their care is spent and can either be a direct payment to a patient, a notional budget or a real budget held by a third party.

From April, NHS England expects clinical commissioning groups to expand the use of personal health budgets by offering them to people with long-term conditions who could benefit. Mental health service users will be among those expected to be offered the budgets.

NHS Confederation director of policy Dr Johnny Marshall, also a practising GP, said: “Personal health budgets are here to stay. The issue is no longer whether to implement them, but how and for whom. As local areas roll out them out, it will be crucial to keep learning from experience and to share evidence widely about their impact and the best ways to implement them.”

The document identifies people with mental health problems who might benefit from personal budgets, such as those who often use crisis services, who repeatedly end up in A&E, in recovery services, teenagers who are unwell and could be supported at home and young people moving from child to adult services.

It also sets out challenges, such as safeguarding public money at the same time as putting people in control of their care budgets, getting buy-in from staff and keeping existing services running when some of their users opt for different treatments.

TLAP director, Dr Sam Bennett, added: "The pressures on the system demand we think and act differently to drive through the changes needed for a truly person-centred NHS. People with health and care needs can help lead this change, with support, through using personal budgets. It's a challenge we should embrace and there is already a wealth of learning we can build on to do this."

Read the briefing in full at: www.nhsconfed.org/health-topics/integration/personal-health-budgets