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Gove announces brain injury task force

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Chris Bryant

“This is really good news because it’s only if we tackle all the various issues that we can deal with this hidden epidemic,” says Chris Bryant, “Which has been made considerably worse with coronavirus.”

Bryant says the issues surrounding acquired brain injury effect every government department, including the Ministry of Defence, Department for Education, Ministry of Justice, as well as the criminal justice system, the welfare system and local government and housing.

In a meeting yesterday with Bryant and the UK Acquired Brain Injury Forum (UKABIF), Cabinet Minister Gove committed to bringing together a task force to discuss issues relating to acquired brain injury, which include ensuring adequate support and rehab.

This is about opening up discussions across health, education, justice, welfare, defence and many of the other government departments, says Chloe Hayward, executive director of UKABIF.

“The issues around brain injury transcend different areas of government, if you provide input into certain areas it will benefit other departments down the line,” she says.

For example, Hayward says, providing early, specialist rehab for someone after an acquired brain injury would likely lead to saving money on welfare and benefits.

“If someone gets severely injured, they’ll need less intensive care, maybe one carer instead of three, or it could result in someone going back to work rather than on benefits,” she says.

“Similarly, if a child has an acquired brain injury it can affect their behaviour. By addressing the behaviour as part of their injury in school a cycle of negative behaviour can be avoided which may spiral into offending behaviour,” she says.

“So, in this case, you’re focussing on the education system to lessen the burden in the justice system.”

UKABIF has been calling for cross-governmental efforts to tackle the issues around acquired brain injury since its Time to Change report in 2018, however changes in government disrupted progress.

But the meeting comes at a crucial time, Hayward says, as the Covid pandemic is exacerbating issues, particularly people’s access to rehab.

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