Spinal cord injury treatment and the postcode lottery of local services
Patients are facing massive delays in being discharged from specialist spinal cord injury (SCI) centres, with location being a massive factor in waiting times.
Many individuals are being forced into staying at specialist centres due to their local authority not having the provision to provide the spinal cord injury treatment they require when living back in the community. This in turn has a knock-on effect, with those unable to be discharged holding up the process for those waiting to access the specialist service and being forced to remain in a general hospital.
Due to the complex nature of many spinal cord injuries, time is a huge factor in recovery, with better progress generally made by those able to access dedicated services sooner. Delays can drastically slow down progress following spinal cord damage, may lead to unnecessary complications to health, and also affect future independence.
An inquiry into spinal cord injury treatment took place over the summer of 2015, led by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Spinal Cord Injury, following research from the Spinal Injuries Association. The inquiry looked at the reasons why delays took place and called for a review, finding that ‘service fragmentation and poor communication between organisations’ was a major factor in giving patients the level of service they required.
Following in-depth research and interviews with a host of SCI healthcare professionals and individuals who have experienced spinal cord damage, the inquiry resulted in a report entitled ‘A Paralysed System’. The APPG is now pressuring the government to ensure their recommendations come into practise, and the specific needs of people with SCI are met in a prompt fashion. The report also calls for greater communication between local SCI centres and community services in order to make the provision of services and required aids more uniform across the country.
The report is a welcome step for everyone involved with spinal cord damage and rehabilitation and – at a time when there is increasing pressure on local and national health services – it will hopefully propel the government into addressing issues that could change the future lives of thousands of people.
This is a really important piece of research which has highlighted the problem of fragmented rehabilitation service provision for people with spinal cord injuries. A specialist personal injury solicitor should aim to provide a client with the best possible rehabilitation and care opportunities available. If the specialist hospital or community based provision is not available locally, beds are blocked or funding cuts mean delay in treatment being available then the individual may miss out on rehabilitation opportunities regardless of whether they have a legal case. Hopefully this research will lead to more joined up approaches to the treatment of spinal cord injury in the UK.
Peter McKenna, Partner at TLW
TLW have a local heritage, providing specialist legal services to people for over 15 years in the region. With extensive specialist training, we work alongside experienced care and rehabilitation specialists to ensure our personal injury clients receive the very best professional advice and are able to access the support they require.
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