Health chiefs are spending £450,000 a year on personal care packages for just six patients in Brighton and Hove.
The number of patients receiving the care packages – known as personal health budgets – is expected to double by next spring, according to the Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
And more care packages are likely to made available to frail and homeless people who have long-term health problems.
The care packages made headlines earlier this month when Pulse magazine said: “Millions of pounds of NHS funding have been spent on luxury goods such as summer houses, holidays and pedalo boats, under a scheme to give patients personal health budgets.
The Brighton and Hove CCG provided no details of how the money was spent locally.
Pulse said: “A Pulse investigation found that the scheme to give ‘patients more control over their care’ has been used to buy many unevidenced treatments at the expense of long-established services, which have been defunded.
“Information obtained under a Freedom of Information Act shows that CCGs in England predict spend of over £120 million this year for 4,800 patients on the personal health budgets scheme.”
The magazine added: “Since October last year, all eligible patients have had the right to hold a personal health budget, which allows them to spend NHS cash as they wish.
“NHS England’s Five Year Forward View has called for a ‘major expansion’ of the scheme. But experts have been scathing, as NHS England estimates it needs at least £20 billion in efficiency savings to stand still by 2020.”
The Brighton and Hove CCG released the local figures today (Tuesday 22 September) after a question from Rita Kotchinsky, a member of the The Avenue Surgery Patient Participation Group, in Moulsecoomb.
The CCG said: “In line with NHS regulations, CCGs are required to offer personal health budgets (PHBs) to all patients eligible for NHS-funded continuing healthcare (CHC).
“Currently there are six adult CHC patients in receipt of PHBs within Brighton and Hove CCG.
“The total cost of these PHBs is £450,000 a year funded from the CCG CHC budget. We expect the number of CHC patients receiving PHBs to rise to 12 by spring 2016.
“The method for calculating the size of the personal health budgets is based on the approach used for arranging conventional packages of CHC.
“Budgets are based on the patient’s health and wellbeing needs as determined by the national ‘decision support tool’ for continuing health care.
“This enables us to calculate the range of care required to support each individual, for instance to calculate the number of hours of personal care required.
“Holding the budget as a PHB enables the individual to agree with the NHS how they may choose to use the overall sum flexibly to reflect their personal circumstances.
“Locally the PHBs enable individuals with complex needs to remain living at home.
“Currently five of the six local PHBs have underspends on their annual PHBs and we know that their attendance at hospital (other than for routine care) is minimal.
“As part of the Brighton and Hove Better Care programme, and in line with the NHS England planning guidance to lead a major expansion of PHBs to people who may benefit, the CCG is exploring extending its PHB offer to individuals who have complex needs and/or a range of long-term conditions.
“This is being piloted through local workstreams with the frail and homeless populations to support CCG work to address inequalities.”