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Health Act 2009

Direct payments for health care

117.Section 11 inserts new sections 12A to 12D into the NHS Act. New section 12A(1) allows the Secretary of State to make monetary payments directly to a patient, or another person nominated by the patient, to enable them to procure goods and services in connection with their health care. Such a payment is referred to as a “direct payment” (see new section 12A(5)).

118.Before a direct payment could be made, the patient would have to give their consent, either to receiving a direct payment themselves, or to a direct payment being made to a person nominated by them. For patients who lack capacity to consent, regulations under new section 12B(2)(c) may make provision for a direct payment to be made to a person on the patient’s behalf.

119.The Secretary of State may provide in regulations for PCTs to be able to make direct payments for mental health after-care services that PCTs must provide to patients under section 117 of the Mental Health Act 1983 (the Mental Health Act) (see new section 12A(4)). The patient would be required by the regulations to give consent before a direct payment could be made, as in the case of a payment under new section 12A(1).

120.The Government has set out its intentions for how direct payments might operate in Personal Health Budgets: First Steps. A health care direct payment would be analogous to a direct payment for social care. The health care that could be procured using this money is health care for which the Secretary of State is responsible under sections 2(1) or 3(1) of the NHS Act, anything for which the Secretary of State must arrange under paragraph 8 of Schedule 1, or vehicles that the Secretary of State may provide under paragraph 9 of Schedule 1 (see new section 12A(2)). Under section 3(1) of the NHS Act the Secretary of State must provide specified services or facilities to such extent as he or she considers necessary to meet all reasonable requirements. This includes hospital and other accommodation for the purpose of the services provided under the Act, medical, nursing and services or facilities for the care of pregnant women and children and for the prevention of illness, care of persons suffering from illness and the after-care of persons who have suffered from illness and for the diagnosis and treatment of illness.

121.Initially the Secretary of State has power to make direct payments for health care only in pilot schemes under regulations, as required by new section 12A(6). Direct payments for health care could in the future be made more widely available following review and an order made by the Secretary of State under new section 12C(8)(a). The order would be subject to approval by each House of Parliament under the affirmative resolution procedure.

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