Stuart hails success of personal health budget following Norfolk pilot

Father-of-three and grandfather of one Stuart Ross, 59, from Lingwood with his wife Tracey.

Father-of-three and grandfather of one Stuart Ross, 59, from Lingwood with his wife Tracey. - Credit: Archant

A scheme to give patients more control over their care has been hailed as a success by health chiefs and patients in Norfolk who trialled a NHS pilot.

NHS Norfolk and Waveney rolled out a personal health budget initiative two years ago, which is set to be made available across the country from next year.

The primary care trust (PCT) is pioneering the scheme in the east and allows patients with long-term, complex needs to have control over how money is spent on their care.

One of those to have taken part in the scheme is Stuart Ross, from Lingwood, after becoming paralysed from the chest down as a result of a growth on his spine in 2011.

The 59-year-old started a personal health budget 16 months ago and used his budget to employ his wife Tracey, who has a nursing background, as his official carer.

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He was also able to buy a motor-assisted hand-cycle that attaches to his wheelchair to keep fit and cycles about 50 miles a week.

'From the beginning I just knew that a personal health budget was going to help. I was able to write out my own plan with the care I needed to live my life. I have the independence to do what I want, when I want.

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'I can even hold my almost one-year-old granddaughter unaided. Without the equipment I bought with my personal health budget I wouldn't have the strength in my upper body to be able to do this,' he said.

NHS Norfolk and Waveney is the first PCT in England to offer a dedicated payroll and human resources service for patients with personal health budgets.

Peter Witney, project manager, said: 'Personal health budgets basically give patients with long-term conditions the freedom to improve their wellbeing and the way in which their needs are met.

'What helps one person is often very different from what will help someone else with the same illness – personal health budgets give the patient a real choice over how they are cared for.'

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