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The NHS has announced that more than 50,000 people have taken charge of their own care after being handed control of how their NHS funding is spent via a Personal Health Budget.

Personal Health Budgets can be used to purchase a range of services and equipment to enable people living with a long-term or complex health condition to become more independent, such as respite care, mobility aids, assistive devices that control heating, or assistance dogs.

The rollout of the Budgets across the country is two years ahead of scheme and being ramped up further as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.

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New statistics from NHS England and Improvement revealed that 54,143 people with long-term health problems are currently benefiting from the Budgets. Over the next five years, the NHS says that at least 200,000 people will also be able to improve their health and wellbeing by using a Personal Health Budget.

The vast majority of Personal Health Budget spending goes on the provision of direct care and support, such as help with washing, eating, dressing and other aspects of essential personal care.

However, the spending packages can also be used to purchase new technology, with patients able to request modified and improved support, like personalised wheelchairs.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England and Improvement, said: “These are practical but radical reforms enabling NHS patients to take direct control of their own care. While not right for everyone, for some people with long term health problems, the NHS is now offering them the opportunity to completely reshape the personal and health support they get.

“With over 50,000 people now choosing this route, this initiative has proven its practical benefits for patients and their families, and so will now be expanded further.”

Personalised care sees GPs and local agencies working with patients to make decisions about managing their health and care, by asking what matters to that individual rather than simply what’s wrong with them.

Together, they devise a personalised care and support plan, and agree how their personalised health budget will best be spent to help improve their health and wellbeing. The budget can integrate health and social care funding and helps join up these services at a local level.

James Sanderson, Director of Personalised Care Group at NHS England, added: “A one-size-fits-all health and care system simply cannot meet the increasing complexity of people’s needs and expectations.

“Instead of having their health care ‘done to’ them, people with personal health budgets are an equal and active partner in their own health care and able to make their own decisions.

“More than 54,000 people now have more choice and control over their lives, which we know leads to better outcomes. This fantastic figure shows what can be achieved with strong local partnerships between CCGs, local authorities, providers and the voluntary and community sector.”

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