More than £4m was spent on personal budgets for people with ‘complex health conditions’ across Sussex, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.
The request, submitted by Pulse Magazine, found £2.1m of NHS money was spent on 23 patients in East Sussex and £2.6m was spent on 44 West Sussex patients from 2014/2015.
Personal health budgets are for people with the most complex health conditions such as autism, severe breathing problems and mental health issues that mean they can find many environments distressing.NHS England
People can use a personal health budget to pay for therapies, personal care and equipment.
However, the magazine said the budgets across England have been spent on horse riding, sat nav, art classes, clothes, massages, tablets and even a summer house.
A spokesman for East Sussex Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), confirmed the figure for the county was correct.
He added: “Personal health budgets were introduced by the government to help people with long-term conditions manage their care in a way that suits them and gives them greater choice and control over the health care and support they receive.
“It is an amount of money to support people’s identified health and wellbeing needs, planned and agreed between recipients and the local NHS team.”
People entitled to the money agree a care plan with their GP and other NHS professionals involved in their care.
The plans set out the patients’ needs, how the money will be spent and the impact of the budget.
Figures provided by Coastal West Sussex CCG also include data from Crawley and Horsham and Mid Sussex CCGs.
They show 86 per cent of the total amount – £2.2m – was spent on specific care packages, 0.5 per cent is spent on respite, 10 per cent on brokerage and employment support, one per cent on therapies, one percent on training and one percent on insurance.
A spokesman for Coastal West Sussex said: “Putting patients at the centre of their care is an absolute priority for the CCG, and ensuring that patients know they have the right to have a personal health budget is a key part of our work.
“The use of personal health budgets is just one way in which the NHS can tailor services and support for people to enable them to have choice, control and flexibility over their care.”
An NHS England spokesperson said: “Personal health budgets are for people with the most complex health conditions such as autism, severe breathing problems and mental health issues that mean they can find many environments distressing.
“The money has already been allocated based on identified health needs and must be approved by a medical professional.
“This is often about looking to do things differently and in a less costly way.
“An independent evaluation has shown they work and are cost effective but clearly, if there was any abuse of the system, we would expect the local GPs who make these decisions to crack down on it hard.”
Do you benefit from a personal health budget? Please get in touch and email firstname.lastname@example.org
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