North of England Commissioning Support Unit

Personal health budgets

What is a Personal Health Budget?

A Personal Health Budget (PHB) is an amount of money to support a person’s identified health and wellbeing needs. The use of a PHB is just one way in which the NHS can tailor services and support people to enable them to have choice, control and flexibility over their care.

Evidence from the independent evaluation of the pilot, which ran from November 2009 – October 2012, identified five key features of a PHB:

  1. Know upfront how much money they have available for healthcare and support.
  2. Be enabled to choose the health and wellbeing outcomes they want to achieve, in dialogue with one or more healthcare professionals.
  3. Be involved in the design of their care plan.
  4. Be able to request a particular model of budget that best suits the amount of choice and control with which they feel comfortable.
  5. Be able to spend the money in ways and at times that make sense to them, as agreed in their plan.

People can manage a PHB in one of the following, or any combination of the three, ways:

  1. Notional budget – where the NHS holds the budget but utilises it to secure services based on the outcomes of discussions with the service user.
  2. Third party budget – where an organisation (independent of the NHS and the individual) manages the budget on the individual’s behalf and arranges support by purchasing services in line with the agreed care plan.
  3. Direct payment – where money is transferred to a person or their representative or nominee who contracts for the necessary services.

Who can have a Personal Health Budget?

Since October 2014, people eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare, and parents of children and young people eligible for Children and Young People’s Continuing Care, have benefited from a ‘right to have’ a PHB.

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are expected to lead a major expansion by April 2016 in the offer and delivery of PHBs to people, where evidence indicates they could benefit. The North of England Commissioning Support (NECS) is supporting CCGs across the region to do this.

Further information

If you are from a CCG and do not currently commission PHB expertise from NECS, but would like further information, please contact the PHB team via