Personal Health Budgets for Wheelchairs in England
NHS England recently announced that they are introducing personal health budgets for wheelchairs. This new approach to wheelchair commissioning will replace the current voucher scheme. According to NHS England, wheelchair users have found a number of challenges with the existing scheme, now 20 years old, including a lack of information and guidance around maintenance, repair and replacement as well as a limited number of providers where a voucher can be redeemed.
It is claimed that the new personal health budget scheme will offer more choice of where wheelchairs can be bought as well as a detailed care plan that will help users make informed decision about their wheelchair. The care plans will also go beyond purchasing the chair to also include guidance on future maintenance, repair and replacement needs.
It is also claimed that a wheelchair will form part of a person’s wider care, catering for their individual needs and ensuring a more joined-up approach, a key aim of NHS England’s Five Year Forward View. The new approach will also help NHS England collect meaningful data on wheelchair provision that will further help improve services and address variations in provision across the country.
CECOPS’ CEO, Brian Donnelly, says, “Offering personal health budgets for wheelchairs will be useful for some people. Although not a total solution, this will certainly increase choice and hopefully allow people to get access to the equipment they need more quickly.
We included personal health budgets in our Code of Practice for Disability Equipment, Wheelchair and Seating Services last year.
Following the Code will help commissioners, providers and clinicians and will ensure the necessary safeguards are in place where personal health budgets are used.
We would hope to see personal health budgets eventually being used for all disability equipment so that the holistic needs of disabled and elderly people can be met more effectively.”