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Personal health budgets in England - making them work in mental health

The Government has committed to rolling out personal health budgets in the NHS in England for patients who could benefit from them. In line with the Government’s commitment to ‘parity of esteem’ in the Health and Social Care Act, this should apply equally to mental health and physical health.

The evaluation of the national pilot programme indicated that personal health budgets “had a significant positive impact on care-related quality of life, psychological wellbeing and subjective wellbeing” of the people taking part. People with mental health problems reported improvements in their physical health, and people with physical health problems likewise reported better mental health. Personal health budgets were also shown to be cost-effective for people with mental health problems, reducing their use of primary and secondary care.

Mind conducted research with people with mental health problems to find out what they want from services and support, and what role personal health budgets might play in improving their experience of care and their health and wellbeing outcomes.

People with mental health problems told us choice of treatments and joint-care planning are most important to improving their experience of mental health care. These ideas are central to personal health budgets.

Mind supports the principles behind personal health budgets of greater choice and control, a shared decision-making approach to care planning, and a focus on patient-defined outcomes and flexibility in how to achieve them.

However, Mind has identified a number of barriers that threaten the effectiveness of the policy for people with mental health problems and has produced a series of recommendations to overcome them.

We know that some people with mental health problems will not want a personal health budget, so it is crucial that enough existing services are provided to meet their needs.