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Brain injury

ABI strategy ‘must level disparity in neuro-rehab provision’

Paul Brown, secretary of UKABIF, calls on the Government to ensure appropriate funding and resources are made available

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Andrew Bowie

Action must be seen by the Government in backing the creation of an ABI strategy if the pledge to better support people living with brain injury is to truly be delivered upon, according to one of the sector’s leading figures. 

Paul Brown, secretary of UKABIF, said it is vital that proper funding is assigned to back the strategy – the development of which is being led by Gillian Keegan, Minister for Care and Mental Health, alongside Chris Bryant, chair of the APPG on ABI – and to implement the support and resources which are so badly-needed. 

Paul Brown

Hailing the go-ahead from the Government over the creation of the strategy as “great news”, Paul added: “It’s important to remember we have been here before – many times we’ve had documents produced by Government and we get to a certain stage but then don’t get any further. 

“This time, we need to see it through, and once the strategy is put in place, we need to see the money following it – there’s no point in pursuing it if the funding isn’t there.

“We also need consultation with the right people, their involvement is crucial in this process. Rehabilitation consultants in particular have a role to play.”

Estimates have been made that there is a £15billion cost to the public purse through not having a proper strategy to deliver adequate support for people living with ABI in the community.

Campaigners have pointed to the role effective neuro-rehabilitation could play in reducing that vast sum. 

“We see how, with proper focused rehabilitation, people can make a good recovery from their injury in a lot of cases, but too often we see that the rehabilitation they receive in hospital is not carried through into the community,” says Paul, partner at Burnetts Solicitors in Newcastle and chair of Headway Wearside. 

“Through the role I have with my clients who have legal claims, I fully appreciate the benefit the additional rehab and treatment can have, but sadly that is not available to everyone. 

“In terms of provision, too often we have two levels – we see the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ and that is not fair. There is very much a postcode lottery when it comes to community services. 

“In the North East region, where I’m based, there is a great disparity in provision. We have the Northumberland Head Injuries Service and then the Sunderland and Gateshead Community ABI Service, which cover Northumberland, Gateshead and Sunderland, but then in County Durham there is nothing. 

“These are very real issues which must be addressed and I hope will be in the creation of the strategy. Chris Bryant and the APPG continue to highlight such issues in Parliament, and we continue to stress this through UKABIF, and I hope that the creation of the strategy will effect change.”

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