Brain Injury Services in Wales - A Time For Change
- AuthorRebecca Bennett
A “Call for Action” was the appeal made at the recent launch of the “Acquired Brain Injury and Neurorehabilitation in Wales: Time for Change” report published 6 July 2021, which sets out key recommendations as to how neurorehabilitation services in Wales can be improved.
Rebecca Bennett, Solicitor in our Injury Services Department and Committee Member for the South Wales Acquired Brain Injury Forum (SWABIF), attended the launch event. Here Rebecca discusses some of the findings and recommendations of this new report and explains what we can all do to help to improve access to neurorehabilitation for people with a brain injury in Wales:-
Across Wales, there are an average of 46 hospital admissions per day where people have sustained an Acquired Brain Injury.
Yet against that background, for the whole of South Wales, there are only 35 dedicated Level I inpatient neurorehabilitation beds and, in North Wales, there is no provision at all for inpatient neurorehabilitation, with individuals having to cross the border to England for inpatient care.
Neurorehabilitation services for children are limited to the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for Wales in Cardiff where there are just 4 inpatient beds for children and young people with an acquired brain injury. There are no other specialist NHS paediatric inpatient neurorehabilitation services at all across the whole of Wales.
Early access to neurorehabilitation is crucial to optimise recovery and maximise the potential for those who have sustained an acquired brain injury and, whilst community neurorehabilitation services are provided by Health Boards across Wales, the limited specialist neurorehabilitation service means that many people suffering from an ABI in Wales are missing out on this crucial support, often when they need it the most.
The publication of the ‘Time for Change in Wales’ Report identifies these key issues in the provision of neurorehabilitation services in Wales and makes recommendations as to how this can be improved. The full report can be accessed here.
The report highlights the need for an urgent review into neurorehabilitation services in Wales to ensure they are “fit for purpose”. This includes recommendations that individuals with an acquired brain injury in Wales should have access to high-quality inpatient and community-based neurorehabilitation and their neurorehabilitation needs should be assessed soon after hospital admission, be delivered in the inpatient phase and then be continued, if required, in the local community.
The report further recommends that a “Rehabilitation Prescription” should be given to all individuals with an acquired brain injury on discharge from hospital and copies should be sent to their GP to ensure access to neurorehabilitation services can be arranged after their discharge.
The report also highlights key issues relating to acquired brain injury in the context of education, the criminal justice system, sport-related traumatic brain injury and the welfare benefits system; making recommendations as to how these services can better meet the needs of people with an acquired brain injury.
At the launch event Dr Claire Williams of the South Wales Acquired Brain Injury Forum initiated a ‘call for action’ and appealed for support for a petition calling for a review of the provision of services and support for people with an acquired brain injury in Wales and for the Welsh Government to ensure that such services are ‘fit for purpose’.
The petition is available to sign here and I would urge everyone to show support for this cause, ensuring the provision of adequate and appropriate support for people with an acquired brain injury in Wales.
Some Key ABI Questions answered…
What is an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)?
An Acquired Brain Injury is an injury to the brain that has happened any time since birth.
There are many possible causes and these include Traumatic Brain Injuries (such as involvement in a road traffic accident, fall, assault or accident at work and Non-Traumatic Brain Injuries (including medical conditions such as stroke, encephalitis, hypoxia and in some circumstances as a result of medical negligence.
What is Neurorehabilitation?
Neurorehabilitation is the process of assessment, treatment and management by a specialist team of therapists, which commonly includes a Rehabilitation Consultant, Rehabilitation Nurse, Neuropsychologist, Speech and Language Therapist, Physiotherapist, and Occupational Therapist.
The goal is to maximise an individual’s recovery following an acquired brain injury.
Why is Neurorehabilitation important?
Neurorehabilitation is vital to support individuals to achieve their maximum potential for physical, social, and psychological function following an acquired brain injury and for promoting quality of living.
What can I do if I have suffered an ABI through no fault of my own?
In these instances, the individual involved may contemplate a legal claim for compensation for the injuries suffered. It is essential that, in such circumstances, a specialist solicitor is instructed who is experienced in dealing with cases involving acquired brain injury.
Can my solicitor arrange neurorehabilitation for me privately?
Depending on the circumstances of the case, a solicitor can ensure access to rehabilitative therapies, including private neurophysiotherapy, occupational therapy, support workers and speech and language therapy to help maximise and maintain an individual’s recovery and independence.
A solicitor may also be able to assist with obtaining funding to purchase appropriate and specialist aids and equipment and accommodation.
Rebecca Bennett is an Associate Solicitor in our Injury Services department who acts for and supports clients who have suffered a head or brain injury as a result of medical negligence. Rebecca can be contacted on email@example.com or 01792 529 667.