Feature Briefing

Personal health budgets: surplus of cash or deficit of ideas?

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e8329 (Published 10 December 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e8329

Re: Personal health budgets: surplus of cash or deficit of ideas?

It was nice to see that our paper on the Dutch experience with personal health budgets was cited [1] but unfortunate that its key message was overlooked. This is that availability of these budgets is being scaled back radically, not only because of escalating costs but also because of widespread abuse.

It was also a pity that another key issue was overlooked. Many of us view personal health budgets as the beginning of a process, initiated by the Health and Social Care Bill, whereby at some point in the future each of us will be allocated a fixed amount to purchase insurance, with the requirement to top up anything that is not covered. this would be consistent with views expressed previously by various Conservative politicians.[2] what may seem like a good idea could so easily become a Trojan Horse.

1. Van Ginneken E, Groenewegen PP, McKee M. Personal healthcare budgets: what can England learn from the Netherlands? BMJ2012;344:e1383.
2. Reynolds L, McKee M. Opening the oyster: the 2010-2011 NHS reforms in England. Clin Med 2012; 12: 128–32.

Competing interests: No competing interests

17 December 2012
Martin McKee
Professor of European Public Health
london School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
15-17 Tavistock Place, London WC1H 9SH