First Steps For Personal Health Budgets

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Personal health budgets in England moved a step closer today with the Department of Health inviting expressions of interest for a new pilot programme.

Lord Darzi first announced the programme in his report High Quality Care for All last year. Evidence from social care suggests personal health budgets have the potential to deliver more effective and responsive care by giving people greater choice and control over the way money is spent on their healthcare.

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To support PCTs and local authority partners who wish to submit a proposal to the pilot programme, the Department has today published Personal health budgets: first steps - a document that outlines how personal health budgets might work in the NHS and sets out evidence from other health systems. Rather than a definitive guide or rulebook, First Steps encourages PCTs to take an innovative approach to personal health budgets and explore the opportunities they offer.

The pilot programme will run from the end of 2009 until 2012. The closing date for applications is 27 March 2009.

Health Minister Lord Darzi said: "People are giving us a clear message that they want greater control over their healthcare - and rightly so. There is no doubt that personal health budgets have the potential to deliver more effective and responsive care for patients, but it is crucial that they continue to uphold NHS values and tackle health inequalities.

"This pilot programme therefore marks the beginning of a challenging yet exciting journey. We want it to build on the great successes already achieved with individual budgets in social care and see PCTs take an innovative approach to making personal budgets work for healthcare."

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