Over £600,000 awarded to projects that support spinal cord injury patients across the South East

As part of a national program to transform services for people with spinal cord injury (SCI), funding has been made available to enhance the rehabilitation, independence, and wellbeing of SCI patients and their carers. 5 hospital trusts have been successful in bidding for enhanced rehabilitation equipment at existing sites including Oxford University Hospital, University Hospital Southampton, Milton Keynes University Hospital, the National Spinal Injuries Centre (NSIC) and across the Sussex Trauma Network.  In addition, 5 pilot projects have been given the go-ahead to begin making pathway improvements.

The successful South East pilot projects, soon to begin implementation include:

  1. Mental health support and education for carers and patients of spinal cord injury (Spinal Injuries Association)
  2. Provision of creative arts programme at three Spinal Cord Injury Centres – Salisbury, Stanmore, and NSIC Spinal Cord Injury Centres (Horatio’s Garden Charity)
  3. Family rehabilitation referral service (Back Up Trust Charity)
  4. Improvements to the referral to discharge planning and enhanced support to patients during the transition and discharge process at the NSIC (Buckinghamshire NHS Trust Provider)
  5. Enhanced spinal trauma rehabilitation within acute trauma, whist patient is waiting for transfer to an SCI rehab centre (University Hospital Southampton & Wessex Trauma Network)

Sadaf Dhalabhoy, Senior Responsible Officer for the programme has stated “We are really excited to announce the successful pilot and equipment schemes for the South East Region SCI programme.  One of the greatest strengths of the bidding process was the variety of organisations and approaches that were received and we are looking forward to collaborating closely with our partners to explore where and how we can improve care provided to patients with spinal cord injuries over the next 12-18 months”.

Natalie Eggleton, General Manager (NSIC), Stoke Mandeville Hospital has said: “We are excited at the opportunity to further support our patients in achieving timely and supportive discharge by providing dedicated team members, to help patients navigate life as they transition to the National Spinal Injury Centre (NSIC) and onwards into the community. We also want to ensure that we provide equitable care and that all age groups can benefit from improved access to upper limb therapy equipment, which enhances rehabilitation while optimising therapists time”.

Dr Jonathan Mamo, Director for Rehabilitation Services, Wessex Trauma Network has stated that, “funding received from the transformation programme will provide us with the ability to enhance the rehabilitation care given to the very early spinal cord injury patients.  This will ensure that they acquire substantially high intensity rehabilitation much earlier in their care pathway with the intention of reducing hospital time and improving clinical outcomes”.

Bethan Cummings, Director of Fundraising, Horatio’s Garden has commented that, “We are thrilled to use the NHS England funding to continue to provide the successful creative arts programme for patients in Salisbury, Stoke Mandeville and Stanmore, while expanding it to patients across the region. We know from existing patient feedback, that our sessions provide a distraction from pain, help strengthen hand and arm muscles and patients feel happy, relaxed, and inspired”.

Kevin Filby, Director of Services, Back Up Trust has said “We are delighted to be building on our existing work to give family members the tools they need to positively adjust to life after their loved one’s injury while also providing NHS professionals in the region, a point to refer those in need of support”.

Kathryn Hill, Director of Programmes, Spinal Injuries Association has said “ This funding will help to provide specialised mental health support and education to spinal cord injured people, their loved ones and the healthcare professionals that care for them, so they can rebuild their lives post-injury and re-join society with solid foundations for continued good mental health”.

Each pilot programme will be working closely with staff and patients. More information about how to access the additional support available will be shared as soon as the programmes are up and running.

Wider Spinal Cord Injury Transformation Programme

There is a national ambition to improve the clinical outcomes for those with spinal cord injury (including children and young people) throughout their care journey.  Across the South East, the focus is looking at where care and support to patients, family members and carers can be improved and to then consider bespoke opportunities for development to deliver a robust and sustainable model of care for the future.

The objective is to optimise the SCI rehabilitation pathways from entry point to discharge and to implement an enhanced In-reach/Outreach workforce model.  This has been determined by national engagement and feedback from patients and their families.

The intension is for NHS England, along with our wider partners and stakeholders, to complete a gap analysis which will inform our workforce proposals. These will be shared with stakeholder groups for discussion and input in November.  It is our intention to have proposals agreed by the end of the year with the new workforce recruited in June/July 2023.

This is a unique and exciting opportunity to make a really positive and lasting change for this group of patients. If you would like to know more, or get involved, please contact the Transformation Lead