Liberal Democrat minister Norman Lamb MP has laid a ministerial statement before Parliament announcing that the Government will amend secondary legislation to introduce a right for NHS continuing healthcare patients not merely to request a personal health budget, as will be possible from April 2014, but actually to receive one – by October 2014.

In 2009, the Department of Health launched a national pilot programme to road test personal health budgets in England. In October 2011, the Secretary of State for Health announced that, subject to evaluation of the pilot, by April 2014 everyone in receipt of NHS continuing healthcare would have a right to ask for a personal health budget, including a direct payment. This will form part of a broader rollout of personal health budgets to people with long-term health conditions.

Clearly not everyone will want a personal health budget although they are generally more suitable for people with long-term conditions who are higher users of NHS services or those with more complex health needs. As far as commissioners are concerned, personal health budgets offer a new tool to support self management and care planning, consistent with the government’s mandate to the NHS to place greater emphasis on patients as partners in the management of their conditions. Certainly, in twelve months’ time, commissioners will need to be well on top of their game when the right to receive kicks in.