Tower Hamlets leads the way on personal health budgets

Tower Hamlets leads the way on personal health budgets

The number of people with a personal health budget (PHB) in Tower Hamlets has risen to 375, the highest in London and 169 more than the next highest performing borough.

PHBs are an innovative approach to giving people with long-term health conditions and disabilities more choice and control over how money is spent on meeting their health and wellbeing needs.

Each personalised budget is planned and agreed by the person receiving the care, or their representative, and local healthcare services. Health and wellbeing outcomes are then identified, giving people more involvement in decisions about their care.

Commenting on the figures, Dr Sam Everington, Chair of NHS Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and a local GP, said:

“This is a great result for Tower Hamlets. It means people have more of a stake in the care they receive, so instead of having services provided for them they are actively involved in their care – ensuring it is tailored to their needs.”

Tower Hamlets CCG’s success is due in part to its ‘personalised care programme’, which includes key groups such as those receiving mental health services, people with learning disabilities, those with long-term conditions such as diabetes, and children with special educational needs. The national programme is supported by NHS England.

Among those in Tower Hamlets to benefit from a PHB is Jackie Kennedy, 52, from Poplar. Her PHB pays for her assistance dog Kingston. He helps her manage her physical health and emotional wellbeing – giving her a new lease of life and saving the NHS money.

Kingston, a black Labrador, knows nearly 200 commands. He can put Jackie’s clothes on the bed for her, open the front door, fetch her mobile phone and bring her a blanket. He can even let himself out into the garden, post a letter and take things off the shelf for her at supermarkets.

Crucially, Kingston also helps Jackie manage her physical disabilities, saving the NHS more than 60 ambulance trips this year alone.

Funded as part of her PHB for just £3,000 a year, he can alert Jackie to an epileptic seizure 45 minutes before it happens, and predict her hypo and hyperglycaemic attacks. He can also sound an alarm, take Jackie her hypo-kit and open the door for paramedics.

The impact that Kingston has had on Jackie’s life has been transformational, and she is now able to manage her health much better. She no longer requires physiotherapy, visits the GP less often and most importantly he has given her a purpose in life.

Included in Jackie’s PHB was funding to attend a slimming club to help manage her diabetes, as this was something that she had not felt able to do before. She is already seeing the benefits of this approach and is motivated to continue to make improvements which will help manage her diabetes.

Jackie, a former nurse, said: “Between 4.30pm and 9.30am each day, when my human carer isn’t there to support me, I’m in Kingston’s paws – he’s my personal assistant and provides all the help I need.   

“Since I got him just under three years ago, my health has really improved. The support Kingston provides through my PHB has had huge benefits for me personally, and the fact that he’s saved thousands of pounds for the NHS too makes is really good to know.

Jackie (pictured with Kingston above) added: “I’m really grateful for the help Tower Hamlets CCG has given me in allowing me to use my PHB in this way and it’s great to see that more people in the borough are receiving similar support. PHBs are the way forward as they put you in the driving seat – you’re the master of your own health.” 

Under plans published by NHS England in June last year, CCGs are being supported to expand to expand personal health budgets so that 50,000 to 100,000 people are benefiting from them by March 2021.

In the longer term, NHS England expects that personal health budgets will become a mainstream model in some areas of NHS-funded care, and develop in new areas, such as personal maternity care budgets (PMCBs) and personal wheelchair budgets.

Follow this link for more information on personal health budgets and who is eligible for them