Government plans for a huge expansion of personal health budgets could help to deliver independent living for disabled people, according to a leading disabled peer.Baroness [Jane] Campbell (pictured), who has been receiving a personal health budget herself for more than a year, said the plans also had “huge potential” for “getting to grips” with the integration of health and social care support.But the government’s plans faced determined opposition from other disabled campaigners this week, with many concerned that they could be part of a planned creeping privatisation of the NHS.They were speaking after the government launched a consultation on the plans to expand the legal right for people to have choice and control over their healthcare through personal health budgets (PHBs).One mental health activist said the plans were about “offloading us to the private sector”, and said she feared that funds would only be made available “as a temporary sweetener” until privatisation of the NHS was complete, when they would be withdrawn.PHBs give individuals a pot of money to spend on their health and wellbeing needs, in agreement with a healthcare professional.Some areas of NHS care will not be covered by a PHB, including GP services, unplanned hospital admissions, drugs and operations. Currently, only about 23,000 people receive a PHB, but reports suggest that ministers want to increase this to about 350,000.The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) says the plans would allow individuals “to control and tailor their own health and care, based on their own individual needs, in a manner that abides by the constitutional values of healthcare being free at the point of delivery, based on clinical need, not on ability to pay”.The consultation stresses that PHBs would remain optional.The government is suggesting expansion could focus on five groups who have an ongoing need for NHS services: those with continuing social care needs; those with ongoing mental health needs; people leaving the armed services; people who are autistic or have learning difficulties; and people who access NHS wheelchair services.At present, only those in receipt of NHS continuing healthcare – and children and young people receiving continuing care – have a legal right to a PHB.But the government also wants to give more people the right to combine their PHBs and social care personal budgets into a single integrated budget – so they will only need a single assessment of all their needs – and potentially add other funding streams, such as disabled facilities grants.It also proposes giving some service-users the right to receive their PHB through direct payments, which would enable them to take a cash payment to manage and pay for their own support.But many disabled activists fear the plans are only the next step in a move towards privatising the NHS.Professor Peter Beresford, co-chair of Shaping Our Lives, said: “Everyone who loves the NHS should fear the government’s determination to extend personal health budgets massively.”He said PHBs were “the antithesis of the NHS founding principles of universality and needs-led provision”, particularly as the government had based PHBs on the same “failing” model used with social care personal budgets.Under personal budgets, service-users are given an upfront allocation of funding, but that often bears no correlation to what is actually available for the service-user to spend on their support.Beresford believes the same will happen with PHBs.And he warned that “further encroachment of the NHS into social care is no way to bring about integration of health and social care.“The great bulk of spending through PHBs is on social care – PAs, home care, respite, leisure and social needs – with a smattering of spending on fringe or complementary health services that the mainstream NHS will not commission.“In effect, as a strategy to bring about integration, it will fail as it doesn’t grapple with the real problems of integrating clinical health and social care.”He said PHBs were also “morally highly questionable” because they will extend the “anomaly” with NHS Continuing Healthcare, where “some will get free social care via PHBs and the rest will have to pay for exactly the same service”.He said: “PHBs aren’t a gift horse; they are a Trojan horse for privatisation and the commodification of health.”Denise McKenna, co-founder of the Mental Health Resistance Network, said she also feared the plans were part of a long-term government strategy to privatise the NHS and move to an insurance-based system similar to the one that operates in the US.PHBs, she said, would allow the government to separate those service-users who would be “uninsurable” and unprofitable under an insurance-based system, including those with severe and enduring mental health conditions.She said: “I understand people with physical disabilities find PHBs excellent and it is really important to independent living that people are in control of their own lives.“My fear is not in the here and now. It is what is going to happen in the future, what their motives are and what it will lead to.“My fear is that it is a major step towards privatisation.”McKenna said her own experience was that it was “practically impossible” for people with mental health conditions to secure a social care personal budget.For those who were able to, she said, they were unable to benefit from the funding because the scheme was so badly run.Clenton Farquharson, chair of Think Local Act Personal – a national partnership committed to health and care personalisation and community-based support – and a consultant on equality and inclusion, welcomed the government’s plans.He said: “We know from our experience of personal budgets that when implemented well they enable choice, control and improve wellbeing.”He said he was not concerned by claims that the government’s plans were part of creeping privatisation of the NHS.He said: “Personal health budgets are motivated by an underlying principle to humanise a bureaucratic approach to supporting people with long term health and social care support.“They are also driven by a need to effectively integrate health and social care that will help minimise costly, confusing and unsustainable processes that, in my experience, has had a negative impact on my life. “I am not aware of any evidence that suggests the further expansion of PHBs is changing existing practice whereby clinical commissioning groups commission a range of services from both the NHS, community sector and private providers. “If done correctly, PHBs can benefit people by offering a choice of affordable, quality, person-centred care that can significantly improve citizens’ health and wellbeing.”Baroness Campbell, who has been working closely on the issue with James Sanderson, director of personalised care for NHS England, also dismissed concerns that expanding PHBs was “privatisation by the back door”.She said that expanding PHBs could “help deliver independent living more effectively, by extending disabled people’s choice and control over the support they require to stay well and less reliant on hospital care and other health interventions.“This is inevitably a more cost-effective approach to supporting well-being – a major principal of the Care Act.”The government plans to outline its next steps in this summer’s adult social care green paper.The PHB consultation closes on 8 June.
SAINTS have announced their 19-man Squad for Sunday’s trip to Bradford Bulls.Chris Flannery returns whilst Head Coach Royce Simmons has also named Paul Wellens and James Roby.Both will have to prove their fitness ahead of the clash and are still rated as doubtful.The squad is:1. Paul Wellens, 3. Michael Shenton, 4. Sia Soliola, 5. Francis Meli, 7. Kyle Eastmond, 8. Josh Perry, 9. James Roby, 10. James Graham, 11. Tony Puletua, 12. Jon Wilkin, 13. Chris Flannery, 14. Scott Moore, 15. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 19. Andrew Dixon, 20. Jonny Lomax, 21. Shaun Magennis, 22. Jamie Foster, 25. Lee Gaskell, 28. Thomas Makinson.Mick Potter, Bradford’s Head Coach, will choose from:1. Michael Platt, 5. Patrick Ah Van, 6. Brett Kearney, 7. Marc Herbert, 9. Heath L’Estrange, 10. Andy Lynch, 11. Olivier Elima, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Jamie Langley, 14. Matt Diskin, 16. Craig Kopczak, 17. Ian Sibbit, 19. Gareth Raynor, 20. James Donaldson, 23. Tom Olbison, 24. Jason Crookes, 25. Shad Royston, 29. Tom Burgess, 33. Ben Jeffries.The match kicks off at 5.45pm and the referee is James Child.If you can’t make the match, it will be covered extensively in the Match Centre as well as on Saints’ Official Twitter and Facebook sites.Tickets for the match are still on sale at the Saints Superstore in St Helens Town Centre, by calling 01744 455 052 or by logging on to www.saintssuperstore.comStats:Summary:St Helens have won their last four Super League meetings with Bradford. The Bulls’ last win was 34-30 at Knowsley Road on 24 April, 2009.Bradford’s last home win against St Helens was 10-4 on 13 July, 2007 – the Bulls have lost the last three Odsal meetings with the Saints since then.Last ten meetings:St Helens 28 Bradford 16 (SLR7, 25/3/11)St Helens 60 Bradford 12 (SLR25, 13/8/10)Bradford 6 St Helens 38 (SLR2, 14/2/10)Bradford 18 St Helens 44 (SLR16, 21/6/09)St Helens 30 Bradford 34 (SLR10, 24/4/09)St Helens 58 Bradford 20 (SLR17, 13/6/08)Bradford 16 St Helens 22 (SLR3, 22/2/08)Bradford 14 St Helens 35 (CCSF, 28/7/07)Bradford 10 St Helens 4 (SLR20, 13/7/07)St Helens 34 Bradford 22 (SLR4, 2/3/07)Super League summary:Bradford won 20 (includes wins in 1999, 2002 and 2005 play-offs)St Helens won 24 (includes wins in 1999 and 2002 Grand Finals; 1998 play-offs)Bradford highest score: 64-24 (H, 2004) (Widest margin: 54-8, H, 2004)St Helens highest score: 66-4 (A, 2005) (also widest margin)
THE RFL and Super League (Europe) Ltd have agreed a three-year contract with Rhino that will see the Somerset-based contact and training equipment company become the official ball supplier for all club matches until the end of the 2015 season.Rhino, who supplied the post protectors for Super League and RFL matches in 2012, have been the official supplier of training equipment to St Helens in recent years, as well as supplying teamwear to a number of Rugby League clubs.RFL Commercial Director James Mercer said he was delighted to welcome Rhino to the sport’s expanding stable of commercial partners.“I would like to congratulate Rhino on winning what was a very competitive commercial process to become the official ball supplier to Super League and the Championships,” said Mercer.“Rhino are an established brand in rugby union and we look forward to working with them over the next three years as they look to replicate that success in Rugby League.”Rhino Chief Executive Reg Clark commented: “This is an important breakthrough for Rhino and follows on from us being appointed official ball supplier to the British and Irish Lions for the second successive tour and to the RaboDirect PRO12 competition.“We are very excited about this partnership which gives us immediate contact and coverage of Rugby League clubs at all levels of the game – from community upwards.”Picture shows RFL Commercial Manager James Mercer and Rhino Rugby Chairman Andrew Moss signing the partnership agreement.
CAPTAIN Paul Wellens is relishing what 2014 could bring to the Saints – but warns his teammates they need to remain focused.The 33-year-old will enter his 17th season as a Saint and his fourth as team leader.“To captain this club is a fantastic honour and I don’t take the responsibility likely. This year in particular the squad looks to be the strongest we’ve had in a long time and with that my job as captain comes a huge responsibility that we maximise that potential.“We have the opportunity to do something special this year and we have to keep focussed and work hard for each other. Names on paper don’t win games; it’s about going out there and putting in the effort.“We have a strong squad and great players and now have to make that work for us.“The competition for places is as fierce as it has been for a long time and that is good for the squad going forward.”Wellens came off the bench in James Roby’s Testimonial, slotting in at dummy half.And although Saints lost 28-16, he believes there is a lot to look forward to.“I was disappointed with the result, even though it was a friendly,” he continued. “It was a good hit out and we came up against a strong side. We will be better off for the game but there are certainly a few areas we need to improve on. Rest assured we are working hard to fix those areas up.“There were plenty of positives too I thought. For his first game at seven I thought Luke Walsh showed what he is going to bring to the team. There was little bit of rustiness which is normal at this time of year, but we will be a much improved outfit for the Warrington game and the home opener.”Saints will kick off their Super League campaign with a trip to Warrington on Thursday February 13 before hosting Hull FC at Langtree Park eight days later.Tickets for those games are on sale from the Ticket Office at Langtree Park, by calling 01744 455 052 or by logging on here.
The Totally Wicked Stadium is one of the newest purpose built Rugby League stadium in the country; situated within easy reach of the M6 and M62, and less than half an hour’s drive away from Liverpool & Manchester.Our modern facility, opened in February 2012 and has an 18,000 capacity with unique and versatile facilities. An ideal venue for meetings, conferences, training days, dinners, exhibitions, product launches and much more. The Stadium can host from 2 to 500 delegates and our choice of facilities range from small meeting rooms to larger suites with complimentary parking, Wi-Fi and stunning pitch side views.For more information on how you can hire out the Totally Wicked Stadium please visit https://www.totallywickedstadium.com/