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“2020health is an important and thoughtful contributor to the health debate”

Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, Chairman, Health Select Committee


Press Release Patients spend money better than GPs

2020health has found that Personal Health Budgets were life changing for patients AND saved the NHS money.

The government announced the roll out of their controversial Personal Health Budgets (PHBs) programme earlier this year, where an amount of NHS money is given to an individual to help them manage their healthcare and wellbeing needs, instead of having to settle for a package from their GP or council. It is a bold move which aims to give power to the people and will take power away from GPs and providers.

2020health’s new report entitled ‘Personal Health Budgets – a revolution in personalisation’
, responds to public and GP key fears about the government introduction of PHBs. It describes how patients make decisions normally made by a GP; what could happen to traditional services and asks whether NHS money should be spent on non-traditional equipment and activities.

Some of the items purchased with PHBs by people living with long term conditions include:
1. Archery for muscle training for an MS Sufferer,
2. Air-conditioning or de-humidifying equipment to help with breathing difficulties,
3. Singing lessons, as an alternative to respiratory therapy for a COPD patient,
4. Personal assistant(s), (Employed by the patient, not the NHS).

The Department of Health claim that ‘if half of the people eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare chose to take the offer of a budget, this could imply a potential saving of around £90 million.’

Jon Paxman, main author of the report said “We heard about Nikki who has Still’s disease, an aggressive form of arthritis. A flare-up can immobilise an individual, leaving them bed-ridden for days, even weeks. Social services drew Nikki’s doctor’s attention to the personal health budget scheme and the outcomes have been incredible.”

Nikki’s says, since the PHBs have come into force “ I haven’t been in hospital for 15 months. My flare-ups that were lasting for weeks on end… have been cut down to two or three weeks now at home. Having a personal health budget has given me a life…one that I can take control of and actually enjoy.”

Nikki’s GP says “I don’t see Nikki very much. She used to be a very frequent visitor, or I’d see her at home, or we’d be on the telephone an awful lot. I have to say, looking at the results, it’s been the perfect solution. We’ve broken a pattern of frequent admissions, to Nikki enjoying a very long spell of very good health.

Savings were also made in hospital transport, with patients taking wheelchair accessible taxis in place of conventional ambulance transport, and more generally from declines in primary secondary care admissions.

We spoke to PHB leads in the NHS who implored cynics to examine expenditure of state money by the outcome, not by the thing bought. Results have shown that from the 2009-2012 personal health budget trial there was a majority view (70%) among users that the PHB had increased their sense of what could be achieved in terms of outcomes and lifestyle.

Julia Manning, Chief Executive, 2020health says “Our report shows how essential it is that the NHS involves patients in the planning of their own care. Only the patient themselves will be able to fully understand what works for them. It is absurd that patients are still not being treated as an essential member of a team through traditional NHS services. The PHB encourages a dialogue between GPs and patients where each share their expertise and a conclusion is reached.”

"PHBs treat a person as a whole – allowing them to meet their social, mental and physical needs through one budget. All of these factors are fundamental to good health and without which good health cannot be achieved. This is something we have known for years, but PHBs are finally a way of making integration and whole person care a reality for patients. ”

Roger Matthews, Chief Dental Officer of Denplan, the sponsors of this report, says: “Personal health budgets put decisions about healthcare management firmly into the hands of patients, with appropriate oversight and controls. Seen in that context, Denplan’s capitation model of dental health care has much in common with the friendly societies of the 19th and 20th centuries – as you get what you put in."

“Individuals choose to put into a fund designed to assist most effectively in the prevention or mitigation of chronic oral disease. It’s about putting the choice in patients’ hands. We have supported this report as it questions the basis for addressing health funding generally. It opens the debate about alternative approaches to managing healthcare and the transformational impact that it can have.”

Note to Editors
1. For interviews, comment or further information please contact Julia Manning or Jon Paxman, author of the report on 020 3411 8615.

2. 2020health is an independent, social enterprise think tank working to improve health through research, evaluation, campaigning and relationships. We do not lobby on behalf of companies, organisations or individuals and retain editorial control of all our publications.

3. The report was sponsored by an unrestricted educational grant from Denplan.