This case study shows how commissioners are working with mental health service providers to help them change what they offer and to make the market more flexible and responsive to what people want through the use of personal health budgets.
Download Market development case study – Kent
In Kent, people with mental health problems have been offered personal health budgets as part of the pilot programme in an areas where services are commissioned by NHS Kent and Medway.
In mental health services, there is a team of specialist counsellors who provide an extensive service. There was a lack of choice in terms of counsellor and long waiting lists. There was also a problem with access to services in terms of time and geography.
An essential part of the development of personal health budgets in Kent has been to put in place advice and brokerage. A healthcare broker has worked with people taking up personal health budgets. This has helped to ensure that plans are holistic and person-centred.
For example, people eligible for counselling had the opportunity to work with a broker to develop a plan outlining how their personal health budget could be used to meet their needs. Budget holders were able to choose a counsellor, and decide the place, time and location that suited them. Some budget holders spent their budget on alternative or complementary therapies such as hypnotherapy, reflexology and acupuncture. Some individuals no longer required a budget after working with the broker, as they were signposted to services available within the individual’s community which helped them address their issues at no cost.