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article imageElderly patients in the U.K. 'need their own healthcare budgets'

By Tim Sandle     Jul 11, 2014 in Health
London - The head of health in England has said that frail elderly, people with disabilities and those with serious mental health problems should be given money from the government and council-run social care services.
Simon Stevens, who runs the National Health Service (NHS) for England on behalf of the U.K. government, has called for vulnerable patients, such as the elderly, to be given their own personal health and care budgets. Stevens hopes that five million people will be offered joint 'pots' of money by 2018. The scheme has been given the title "Integrated Personal Commissioning."
The idea is to give patients a nominal budget — around £1,000 ($1,600) — which they can then decide to spend on whatever care and services they want. The philosophy is part of a drive to give patients more power. The NHS England announcement fits with proposed directives to councils on the potential integration of personal health and social care budgets that are included in draft regulations for the implementation of the Care Act.
Stevens told The Daily Telegraph: "We are going to set out the biggest offer to bring health and social care together that there's been since 1948 — a new option for combining them at the level of the individual."
According to the paper, Stevens went onto describe that the "dramatic extension of patient power is needed to help ensure patients get a better deal from services many find frustrating to deal with, reduce unnecessary stays in hospital by keeping them healthy while still living at home, and also to overcome the shortages of money which are increasingly visible in the NHS and social care."
The move, of extending choice to the more vulnerable, is not supported by all. One doctor told the Guardian: "Will we end up with patients being convinced to spend over the odds on better presented services rather than better services? Or spending public money on something nice (like a therapeutic massage) rather than something useful (like an emergency system to help when you fall over)? Then when you do fall over, they will use the more expensive publicly funded emergency services to make up the difference."
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