The BMA has called for a delay in the roll out of personal health budgets (PHB) amid a lack of understanding around the benefits of the initiative.
The move comes after a poll carried out by the British Medical Association (BMA) – which had just over 200 respondents – found seven out of every ten doctors who responded felt there “are not very well informed” or “not informed at all” about the introduction of PHBs.
Just one in ten of those surveyed believe PHBs will improve clinical outcomes for patients and around 80% claim that giving individuals control of the money the NHS spends on them will be “ineffective”.
On a more optimistic note, six out of ten doctors polled feel it would be “beneficial” for patients with long term conditions to have more control over their care.
Despite the low doctor engagement to the survey, Dr Mark Porter, chair of BMA Council, called for a delay in the roll out of PHBs.
“Doctors are yet to be convinced of the benefit of personal health budgets and have a number of doubts about their clinical and financial implications,” said Dr Porter.
“It is particularly concerning that there appears to be a real lack of knowledge amongst doctors about this significant government policy so close to a potential roll out.
“If patients are to feel fully supported, roll out of personal health budgets should be delayed so that the NHS can carry out a wide ranging information campaign that informs doctors and other healthcare professionals about this proposal. More evidence must also be presented outlining the benefits of PHBs on patient outcomes, and more work needs to be done to ensure that procedures are in place to make sure PHBs are cost effective.”
A spokesperson from the Department of Health said: “An independent evaluation of the personal health budget pilots is due to be published soon. This and the wider learning from the pilot programme will inform the future direction of personal health budgets.
”We know that more information for doctors and patients will be crucial if personal health budgets are to be rolled out following the independent evaluation, and we will look carefully at the findings of this survey.”