The National Health Service (Direct Payments) Regulations 2013 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/1617/contents/made) came into force on 1 August, enabling the NHS across England to make direct payments for healthcare.  Previously this was only possible in approved pilot sites.  NHS England is planning to publish guidance explaining the regulations.

Following a successful pilot programme personal health budgets are being introduced first in NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC).  By April 2014, adults eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare (and also families with children receiving NHS continuing care) will be entitled to ask for a personal health budget, including a direct payment.

By April 2015 a personal health budget will be an option available to other people with long term conditions who could benefit from them.  For example NHS England is looking at mental health as another condition where a personal health budget could be made available.

A free support programme has been developed that will help CCGs to introduce personal health budgets successfully.  The support programme is based on best practice as well as information and learning developed during the pilot programme and includes training programmes, self-assessment tools and all the latest guidance.

With support from the CCG, the support programme is equally open to other organisations (such as CSUs) that are implementing personal health budgets for CCGs.

To join the proframme your CCG or CSU will need to complete and return the response form (available from www.personalhealthbudgets.england.nhs.uk) which asks for a designated lead manager, and sign off by the CCG chief operating officer.