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06-11-2012 | Article

BMA: put brakes on personal budgets


BMA – Personal health budgets resources

The BMA is urging the Government to delay the introduction of personal health budgets until they have been more extensively tested and doctors are better prepared to deal with them.

A recent BMA survey revealed that 72% of doctors feel they are not very well informed or not informed at all about personal health budgets. The majority are also concerned the budgets will make it more difficult for the NHS to control health spending.

The Government has said it is committed to pushing ahead with the scheme. Following similar concerns raised by the RCGP earlier this year, the BMA has now released a position statement on the issue.

Crucially, the RCGP wants GPs to be involved in the process of developing an individual's personal care plan, to help ensure it is based on clinical evidence. Although pilot studies so far have shown patients using budgets wisely in order to help them manage long-term conditions, there have also been instances of budgets being spent on items such as laptops, travel passes or personal assistants without a clear health benefit.

The BMA statement reads: "If doctors are expected to play a central role in supporting patients with personal health budgets, much more work needs to be done to explain the thinking behind [them] and how they can benefit patients."

Dr Mark Porter, Chair of BMA Council, said the apparent lack of awareness among doctors about personal health budgets so close to roll-out was "particularly concerning". Commenting on the BMA's position in a press statement he said that doctors recognise that personal health budgets could offer "a real opportunity to make the NHS more responsive to individual needs".

However, he added: "If patients are to feel fully supported, roll out of personal health budgets should be delayed so that the NHS can carry out a wide ranging information campaign that informs doctors and other healthcare professionals about this proposal."

Univadis recently discussed the BMA's stance on personal health budgets with GPC Deputy Chair Dr Richard Vautrey - click here to watch the interview.

GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Caroline Price, Senior medwireNews Reporter