Could the voluntary sector be key to delivering Personal Health Budgets?

Laura Bell from National Voices tells us about the role of the voluntary sector in delivering Personal Health Budgets and offers valuable tips for collaborative working with CCGs.

Following the recent spike in interest in personal health budgets (PHBs), i.e  the announcement by Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Jeremy Hunt; NHS England ambition for the roll out of PHBs, and the DH consultation, National Voices, along with NAVCA and Volunteering Matters, published a report.

It share learnings from two years’ of working with voluntary organisations and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) across England, exploring the delivery of PHBs. What did we find?

Voluntary sector is key

We found that engagement with the voluntary sector is essential for enabling people to have positive experiences of PHBs. VCSE organisations have the knowledge, expertise and reach into local communities that cannot be duplicated by statutory bodies.


Collaborative work is not always easy though,

  • Voluntary organisations often find it difficult to locate a CCG’s local PHB offer, discover who best to contact, or how best to communicate
  • Many CCGs feel that voluntary organisations are not always good at identifying and articulating the business opportunities of PHBs.

Overcoming challenges

The report recommends how voluntary organisations can overcome some of these challenges:

  • Evidence good practice through measurable indicators
  • Share real life examples of change for people who have benefited from a PHB
  • Build personal relationships, based on mutual understanding, with individuals in  CCGs.

And for the system:

  • Explore whether Healthwatch England and local Healthwatch groups have a role to play in brokering better, joined-up practice
  • Explore the role of Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships, which were built on the same values as PHBs.

For the potential of PHBs and personalised care to be realised, we need a cultural shift on all sides: from health commissioners through to the people who stand to benefit most: people using health services.

PHBs are not for everyone, but personalising care means doing what is right for the individual, which by definition will vary from person to person.

In Warrington, PHBs have enabled 83% of people to die in a place of their choosing, against an average of 26%. This has only been made possible by the CCG and voluntary sector working together.

Do you work with health budgets, or receive a health budget?  What have you experienced? 


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