The drive to personalise mental health care could become a “damp squib”, campaigners have warned after research suggested a lack of appetite for change among service users.
Personal budgets – which allow people to control part or all of the money spent on their care – have been introduced for some social care users and are being piloted for mental health.
Mind head of policy and campaigns Vicki Nash said the report reflected widely held concerns about personal budgets including reduced eligibility for care, cuts and healthcare workers taking a “paternalistic attitude” which prevented people taking meaningful control of their care.
She said the policy had suffered a “loss of momentum” due to other priorities taking precedence at the Department of Health. She said: “An alarm bell should be ringing somewhere in government. The intentions are great but if they don’t start to look at this now there is a danger of it becoming a damp squib and at worst leading to a loss of services.”
Mental Health Foundation head of policy Simon Lawton Smith said: “There is a message there to the government that is if you are to expand personal budgets across health services, you need to explain what they are for, otherwise they won’t have the benefits they can bring.”
But Hertfordshire County Council’s head of joint commissioning Jess Lievesley said the experience of introducing personal budgets in social care had shown that they could work despite reluctance from service users.
He said: “You need to present the opportunity in a way that encourages them to step outside of something they may be comfortable with. It’s about the art of the possible.”