Healthcare: A healthy choice
At a recent meeting with the King's Fund think tank, NHS chief executive David Nicholson introduced the concept of individual budgets for patients with long-term health problems, a controversial suggestion that has been lobbied for extensively by local authority and NHS managers, but until now had been thought to be against Department of Health (DoH) policy. Local authorities have had the power and, in fact, the duty for some years now to offer eligible people money (known as direct payments) instead of arranging services for them. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the individuals are much happier with the packages of care they are able to obtain in this way and there are some evidence-based results which have led the DoH to announce on 10 December a groundbreaking concordat - 'Putting People First' - to promote the direct payment system initially through additional payments of social care reform grants to local authorities.
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