wheelchair NHS personal budgets

“We are determined to give people more power and control over their own healthcare”

NHS England on the 18th of May set out action to help people manage their own health by giving them more choice and control about the personal care they receive, including a scheme to replace the current wheelchair voucher scheme with Personal Health Budgets as part of efforts to improve services for over 1.2 million people that currently use wheelchairs.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, said: “We are determined to give people more power and control over their own healthcare rather than just informing people about decisions taken by others on their behalf.”

The Personal Wheelchair Budgets is a new approach to wheelchair commissioning, replacing the current voucher scheme. Wheelchair users have found a number of challenges with the existing scheme, now 20 years old, including a lack of information and guidance around maintenance, repair and replacement as well as a limited number of providers where a voucher can be redeemed.

The new personal health budget scheme will offer more choice for users regarding where wheelchairs can be bought as well as a detailed care plan that will help users make informed decision about their wheelchair. The care plans will also go beyond purchasing the chair to also include guidance on future maintenance, repair and replacement needs.

It means that a wheelchair will form part of a person’s wider care, catering for their individual needs and ensuring a more joined-up approach, a key aim of NHS England’s Five Year Forward View. The new approach will also help NHS England collect meaningful data on wheelchair provision that will further help improve services and address variations in provision across the country.

Ruth Owen, Chief Executive of Whizz-Kidz, said: “We’re delighted with today’s announcement; it’s a significant step forward, and will give young disabled people, and their families, freedom of choice and control over their own wheelchair provision.

“We know that the families we work with want choice and flexibility; making Personal Health Budgets available for young people’s wheelchair services makes this a reality. This will, at long last, open the door to truly personalised, holistic support for young disabled people.”

There are currently around 7,500 people with a Personal Health Budget and the announcement is a big step towards trying to achieving the goal of up to 100,000 people benefiting from the greater control by 2020/21.

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