Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Are UK services ready for direct payments?

Within two years, by 2013, the Personalisation Programme is set to be rolled out across UK health and mental health services.

In June 2010 Eight Primary Care Trusts began roadtesting direct payments for personal health budgets.

'Patients will be offered more choice and control over their healthcare' announced Care Services minister Paul Burstow. 'The launch of the first direct payment scheme is an important step towards putting patients at the heart of everything the NHS does' he added .

The Coalition government has pledged its 'commitment to extend access' to direct payments. As Paul Burstow reasons, direct payments 'is a step away from the rigidity of the Primary Care Trusts deciding what services a patient will receive'.

Quite how the PCTs are going to be less rigid with their budgets is still unclear. Some formidable outcomes have already been achieved in some of the areas where the scheme is being piloted ( testimonial videos on NMHDU website). Nonetheless, the PCTs are still holding the budgets for direct payments.

Where direct payments is not being piloted or simply not understood, patients and carers are still being denied their rights. The 'rigid' approach is still being applied and clients wishing to access mainstream activities of their own choice are being turned down.

The Care Services minister has announced that direct payments 'will stop healthcare from slipping back to the days of one-dimensional, like-it-or-lump-it services'.

It is a great pity and possibly a legal scandal that clients wishing to determine their own recovery journeys are still being turned down by PCTs for direct payments.

'One-dimensional, like-it-or-lump-it services' are still around.

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