Evaluation of Personal Health Budgets pilot

The final independent evaluation report about the pilot programme “Evaluation of the personal health budget pilot programme” has been published on 30 November 2012 by the personal health budgets evaluation (PHBE) team, led by the University of Kent.

Read the report in full by clicking on link below. An executive summary is also available.

The evaluation found that personal health budgets improved people’s quality of life. The findings show that:

  • people had a significant improvement in their care-related quality of life and psychological wellbeing. Their health ‘status’ stayed the same.
  • benefits were more marked where people had higher levels of need.
  • Personal health budgets also worked better where people were given more choice and control, both over what they bought and how they received the budget. In contrast, where the pilot site imposed a lot of restrictions, personal health budgets tended to worsen people’s outcomes.
  • people reported positive impacts of their personal health budget both for themselves and for other family members. They also talked about the change in their relationship with healthcare professionals.
  • family carers were more likely to report a better quality of life and perceived health than carers of people in the control group.

The evaluation did not report any differences in finding for people on the basis of gender, ethnicity or income.

The evaluation also found personal health budgets to be cost-effective, particularly for people who get NHS Continuing Healthcare and those who use mental health services. It showed that:

  • Where people had a higher budget, savings were made for the NHS as well as people’s quality of life improving. This was partly due to people choosing to meet their health needs in different ways that cost less – such as training their care staff to carry out health tasks like changing dressings.
  • Some of these new ways meant that people bought care and support, which the NHS doesn’t offer – NHS commissioners will need to plan for this.
  • In-patient costs fell for people with a personal health budget, suggesting that people receiving personal health budgets had fewer stays in hospital.

Overall, the report suggests that personal health budgets are beneficial, to both the individual and the NHS, especially when they give people genuine choice and control.

The evaluation also sets out some of the things that will be important for the NHS, to introduce personal health budgets successfully. These include the need for culture change and a shift in the relationship between health professionals and patients, which will take time to embed. People will need the right support, including clear information. The report says that personal health budgets could be a vehicle to promote integration of social care and health care and that there is good potential for this

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