We need to take personal health budgets seriously

Source: NHE July/August 2018

Don Redding, director of policy at National Voices, and its communications & engagement officer Laura Bell, look at the voluntary sector’s role in helping to deliver personal health budgets (PHBs).

“As hard as it is to watch my [adult] child deteriorate…  I wouldn’t change a single thing. Having a PHB has helped me keep us together as a family for longer and with a better quality of life.”

That’s one woman’s experience of holding a PHB on behalf of her adult daughter. More such stories can be found by following the hashtag #myPHBstory on social media. PHBs are a form of personalised care that sees an individual control an amount of money to support their own health and wellbeing needs.

Recently, there has been a spike of interest in PHBs from policymakers. Back in March, then health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt acknowledged that PHBs were key to enabling people to have control over their healthcare and opened a consultation on extending the categories of people who may be given the right to have them. NHS England also has targets to give up to 100,000 people a PHB by 2021.

PHBs empower people to have choice and control over their healthcare and related support, prioritising the needs and wants that are most important to them. However, for the potential of PHBs to be realised, collaborative working with the voluntary sector is key. 

Engaging the voluntary sector

The voluntary sector has expertise, insight and knowledge of local communities that cannot be duplicated by statutory bodies: organisations are grounded in the very same communities as the people they serve. 

When CCGs and the voluntary sector work together, healthcare has the potential to be transformational for individuals. 


Collaborative working is not always easy, though. National Voices, NAVCA and Volunteering Matters spent two years working with health commissioners and voluntary organisations across England exploring the delivery of PHBs as part of the Integrated Personalised Commissioning programme. 

Whilst there were some fantastic examples of partnership working that had enabled individuals to have their healthcare transformed by PHBs, we also heard of frustrating experiences for both commissioners and voluntary organisations when trying to work together.

All CCGs are required to make the offer of a PHB to relevant groups of people known publicly. However, voluntary organisations often found it difficult to locate a CCG’s local PHB offer, know who best to contact in the CCG, or how best to communicate with them. On their side, many CCGs felt that VCSE groups and organisations were not always good at understanding their potential roles in supporting the roll-out of PHBs, and how this could help them deliver their own mission.

Overcoming challenges

Throughout the programme, we found ways of overcoming some of these challenges. Building personal relationships based on mutual understanding between individuals in CCGs and voluntary organisations is essential to successful partnerships. 

For the voluntary sector, spotlighting real-life examples of change for people who have benefitted from a PHB and evidencing good practice through measurable indicators helps to engage CCGs.

For the system, an openness to the diversity, knowledge and flexibility of the voluntary sector is key. There is also potential to explore the role of sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) in joining up different organisations, promoting person-centred approaches, and getting PHBs on agendas across different areas of the system.

Additionally, it is worth exploring which local bodies can help to broker better joined-up practice between commissioners and community organisations. That might be a council for voluntary services, or there may be a new role for the local Healthwatch.

Personalisation is no easy task, and it needs support and buy-in on all sides: from health commissioners, statutory bodies, voluntary and community organisations, and people using health services. 

Whilst they’re not right for everyone, PHBs offer promising outcomes that prioritise the wants and needs of the individual. They empower people, enable them to take control of their care and be active citizens in their communities. Voluntary organisations have a pivotal role to play if the potential of PHBs is to be realised.


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment


national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

Struggling NHS hospital considers appealing to Tottenham Hotspur to ease financial struggles

22/10/2018Struggling NHS hospital considers appealing to Tottenham Hotspur to ease financial struggles

A struggling NHS hospital is considering appealing to a Premier League football club for financial support after ending the year with a £29... more >
NHS trusts stuck in ‘unsustainable cycle of severe winter pressures’ fear winter worse than last year

22/10/2018NHS trusts stuck in ‘unsustainable cycle of severe winter pressures’ fear winter worse than last year

There are “clear warning signs” that the coming winter will be even worse for NHS trusts than last year, a new report from NHS Provid... more >
A goal without a plan is just a wish

22/10/2018A goal without a plan is just a wish

CIPFA’s health and social care policy manager, Dr Ellie Roy, makes the case for a long-term funding plan for social care, and welcomes the ... more >
681 149x260 NHE Subscribe button

the scalpel's daily blog

A goal without a plan is just a wish

22/10/2018A goal without a plan is just a wish

CIPFA’s health and social care policy manager, Dr Ellie Roy, makes the case for a long-term funding plan for social care, and welcomes the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) latest findings. The UK Government has committed to the goal of better integration of health and social care, but the financial squeeze and lack of clarity over its future funding is acting as a barrier to this goal. The recent report from the Public Acco... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >


Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

24/01/2018Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

The NHS plays a part in the country’s wellness – but it’s far from being all that matters. Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Pu... more >
Cutting through the fake news

22/11/2017Cutting through the fake news

In an era of so-called ‘fake news’ growing alongside a renewed focus on reducing stigma around mental health, Paul Farmer, chief exec... more >
Tackling infection prevention locally

04/10/2017Tackling infection prevention locally

Dr Emma Burnett, a lecturer and researcher in infection prevention at the University of Dundee’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and a boar... more >
Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

02/10/2017Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

NHE interviews Gillian Fox, head of eProcurement (Scan4Safety) programme at NHS Supply Chain. How has the Scan4Safety initiative evolved sin... more >

last word

Hard to be optimistic

Hard to be optimistic

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, warns that we must be realistic about the very real effects of continued underfunding across the health service. It’s now bey... more > more last word articles >

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital e... read more >

health service focus

Rules of engagement

01/10/2018Rules of engagement

Using technology to increase patient engagement... more >
Navigate your way to cyber resilience

01/10/2018Navigate your way to cyber resilience

As the NHS celebrates its 70th birthday, Alan... more >