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  1. ITV Report

NHS money 'spent on treats including holidays, aromatherapy and a summer house'

Senior doctors have criticised the findings. Credit: PA Wire

Thousands of pounds of NHS cash is being used to treat patients to holidays, new clothes, aromatherapy and even summer houses, according to an investigation.

Personal Health Budgets, introduced by the Government to allow people greater choice and control over their care and support, can be used to pay for a range of services including therapies to help with depression, help with personal care such as dressing and washing, and equipment.

But research by Pulse magazine found the cash is being spent on activities such as horse riding, art classes, massage and personal trainers.

Senior doctors criticised the use of NHS funds to pay for luxuries at a time when some services are facing severe cuts.

We continue to have real reservations about this scheme and the inappropriate use of scarce NHS money on non-evidence-based therapies.

While individuals may themselves value a massage or summer house, others will understandably start to question why they can't also have such things paid for by the state - and that will just fuel demand.

– Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chairman of the British Medical Association's General Practitioners Committee

The research found more than £2 million was spent on personal health budgets for 161 patients in Northamptonshire in 2014/2015.

Some of the cash was spent on a family holiday to allow a patient to "re-establish relations" with their children while another went on holiday with a dog.

£2.55m
spent on 161 patients in Northamptonshire including holidays and a summer house

Cash was also spent on a satnav, new clothes, an iRobot cleaner and the construction of a summer house so one patient could have "their own space", the research by Pulse found.

In Kernow in Cornwall, £267,000 was spent on five people, including £2,080 on aromatherapy, £248 on horse riding and just over £7 on hiring pedalos.

114,000
spent on 115 patients, including money for a Wii Fit computer game

The NHS Stoke on Trent CCG spent £114,000 between 115 patients, including money for a Wii Fit computer game and more than £1,000 on music lessons.

In Horsham, Crawley and coastal West Sussex, £2.6 million was spent on care packages for 44 people, the highest spend per patient of any of the CCGs.

Personal health budgets are designed to meet identified health needs in ways that give patients more control over the care and support they receive.

The spending must be agreed between the individual and the NHS, meet the patient's individual health needs and achieve the desired outcomes.

An independent evaluation has shown that personal health budgets are cost effective, help people manage their health and improve quality of life.

– NHS England