“Many mental health patients are going without personal budgets; they are suffering from a double discrimination. Not only is mental health underfunded by the NHS but also it is being hit by blatant discrimination in the allocation of personal budgets.
In Adult Care Social Services, personal Budgets are agreed readily and speedily by Team Managers or even Practice Consultants up to a level of £40,000; so there are few delays for people with chronic physical illnesses or disabilities.
In mental health, where the Purchase of Care budget is still held by Norfolk County Council Social Services, there is an overly-bureaucratic system of control over personal budgets. Anything up to £10,000 has to be agreed by a locality panel of senior managers; anything over this sum has to be agreed by this panel, and then by a Senior Manager from Social Services. This has led to huge delays in the provision of personal budgets, and massive frustration and demoralisation on the part of mental health practitioners whose professional assessments are constantly questioned by ivory tower managers.
On top of this, the shortage of care coordinators is leading to many patients not having any care plan at all, being told they are not eligible or other such nonsense. Eligibility for care services is determined by the FACS (Fair Access to Care Services Criteria) and by CPA (Care Programme Approach) policy; the last national review of CPA specified the priority groups for CPA, which included patients with children, the homeless and people with dual diagnosis – probably the three groups who suffer the greatest discrimination.”