Vulnerable patients are to be given control of taxpayers’ cash to fund their own treatment in the community under a plan to save money and keep them out of hospitals, the head of the NHS has said.
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens told the Guardian that from April the elderly, disabled children, the mentally ill and those with learning difficulties will be able to control budgets to spend on carers, physiotherapists and psychotherapy sessions.
The paper reported that most patients on the scheme are likely to get more than £1,000 from health service and local government coffers, with some with complex requirements receiving larger sums, though they will all retain the right to free GP and hospital care.
Mr Stevens told the newspaper that more than five million people could be using the system by 2018, funded by “billions” of pounds of public money.
He wants to use it to improve the quality of care the four groups receive, which is currently fragmented and has been hit badly by local authority funding cuts.
He told the Guardian: “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.”
Patients would not receive cash directly under the plan, the paper reported, but would be able to control how it is spent after agreeing a care plan with their doctors.
Mr Stevens took over the £189,900 post as head of the health service in April, replacing Sir David Nicholson.
He will outline his plan in a speech to the Local Government Association conference in Bournemouth today