The NHS Confederation has criticised unsubstantiated “fervour” for personal health budgets.

Personal budgets are already being used for some social care recipients and health budgets are being trialled in some primary care trusts. Although the confederation’s report today says the budgets can help personalise healthcare, it says NHS managers are concerned the risks could outweigh the benefits.

Shaping Personal Health Budgets - a view from the top found many NHS leaders were “uneasy with the fervour of some proponents” who, it said, could make claims beyond the supporting evidence.

NHS managers interviewed by the confederation’s researchers said frank discussion of patient safety and cost risks associated with personal budgets was hindered by the “evangelism” of enthusiasts and that most NHS leaders were uncertain of any impact of mini budgets.

The budgets are intended to encourage providers to be more responsive to patient preferences as patients can avoid poor providers. But managers are concerned this will lead to double running costs as patients will move only gradually, requiring the NHS to cover the fixed costs of an unpopular service as well as the personal budgets of the patients.

NHS Confederation deputy policy director Jo Webber said: “It is important to be able to make the case that personal budgets do not need to form a drain on resources.”