The Personal wheelchair budget is being introduced to replace the current wheelchair voucher scheme. This is being done to ensure people have better a greater choice over the wheelchair they can obtain.

The personal wheelchair budget model offers a clear framework for clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to commission wheelchair services that are based on the health and wellbeing outcomes that people want to achieve, as well as care that is integrated around the person and their family.

Personal wheelchair budgets enable postural and mobility needs to be included in wider care planning and can support people to access a wider choice of wheelchair.

This can be done by pooling the money provided by the NHS to meet all the assessed clinical needs with money from a range of health and social care services, as well as Access to Work grants and funding from the local authority to enable one chair to meet a range of needs.

What to expect with a personal wheelchair budget

With a personal wheelchair budget, wheelchair users should expect to have:

  • A personalised assessment where they are supported to identify the health and wellbeing outcomes they wish to achieve
  • A care plan which captures the health and wellbeing outcomes identified, which may be part of any wider care plans the person requires for their care, for example an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan
  • Care that is better integrated, meaning that different agencies work together to support their postural and mobility needs and achieve their health and wellbeing outcomes
  • Information provided upfront about the amount of money available in their personal wheelchair budget and the options available to them locally to use it
  • Information about the repair and maintenance of wheelchairs, if the option to purchase a wheelchair outside of the NHS commissioned service is taken.

Each CCG will need to develop local processes to calculate the amount of money in a personal wheelchair budget. The amount will be based upon what it would cost the NHS to meet the person’s assessed postural and mobility needs via the wheelchair service currently commissioned by their CCG.

Options for managing a personal wheelchair budget

A personal wheelchair budget can be managed in the following ways:

  • Notional personal wheelchair budget – here, the person chooses to use their personal wheelchair budget within the NHS commissioned services and the service purchases and provides the chair. This also offers the option for contributions to the personal wheelchair budget to enhance the wheelchair people can access. This contribution may come from an integrated package with other agencies such as education, social care, a voluntary or charity organisation, or through self-pay. This would have previously been known as a partnership voucher.
  • Third party personal wheelchair budget – the person chooses to use their personal wheelchair budget outside of NHS commissioned services. An independent provider receives the personal budget via invoicing the NHS. This may also be contributed to as above. This would have been known previously as an independent voucher.
  • Traditional third party personal health budget – where an organisation legally independent of both the NHS and the person holds the money and manages the budget. This could include provision of a wheelchair as part of a package of support.
  • Direct payment – this is where the budget holder holds the money in a bank account or an equivalent account, and takes responsibility for arranging the care and support, in line with the agreed personalised care and support plan.

Should wheelchair services stop using the voucher scheme now?

No. Personal wheelchair budgets build on the functionality of the voucher system and all CCGs must ensure vouchers remain available throughout the transition period.

During 2017/18, all CCGs are expected to publish the details of their personal wheelchair budget offer as part of their personal health budget local offer, usually available on CCG websites.

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