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A busy start to the year for our campaigns team

SIA in Whitehall and Westminster – the regular blog from our campaigns team

January is over, we’re not sure how
The Christmas break is just a memory now
While it seemed short, this month has been busy –
The campaigns team is feeling quite dizzy!

The first Friday of January, not due to return to work until the following Monday, I was sitting on the window ledge of our place in Scotland with a mug of hot chocolate, gazing out dreamily at the sea and snowy mountains. My phone buzzed with a WhatsApp message that brought me back to reality with a jolt. The message was from Glyn, relaying a request from Stuart: would I be ok to be interviewed by ITV Meridian on my return to work?

Of course, I couldn’t say no, so a couple of days later I was discussing our campaigns with ITV. We focussed on the difficulties faced by people with spinal cord injuries accessing routine screening tests like an MRI. I also raised the issues women with spinal cord injuries face, especially in accessing gender specific diagnostic tests such as mammograms and cervical smears; highlighting our campaign to change this and the task force we are setting up.

Screenshot of UK Parliament website showing written questions, answers and statements with the heading Disability: Screening Women’s health issues were also raised this month as a result of our meeting with Lord Hunt and his subsequent support for our campaign. We’d drafted a question regarding the difficulty women with spinal cord injury have in accessing basic diagnostic tests in hospitals and Lord Hunt put this question to Lord Markham, the Department of Health and Social Care Minister. Lord Markham agreed that when healthcare settings do not make sufficient provisions for access to tests this is likely in breach of the Equality Act. The link to the written Parliamentary question and the full response can be found here.


We are delighted that the following five Parliamentarians have agreed to be part of our task force to lead on the campaign around women’s health after sustaining a spinal cord injury:

  • Helen Grant MP (Conservative)
  • Helen Morgan MP (Liberal Democrats)
  • Gill Furniss MP (Labour/ Shadow DWP Minister)
  • Baroness Hollins (Cross Bench Peer/ former President of the British Medical Association)
  • Lord Hunt (Labour Peer/ current member of the General Medical Council’s council)

They will be joined by others with lived experiences from both a patient and healthcare perspective; the initial meeting is due to take place in the spring.

January also saw the launch of our first ever petition, asking Government to ensure that every NHS trust has a bowel care policy and trained staff, to provide the appropriate care needed for those with neurogenic bowel conditions going into healthcare settings. We are delighted that Shine, the charity for spina bifida patients, has agreed to join us in this campaign. To initiate a response from Government the petition requires 10,000 signatures so if you haven’t signed it yet, please do so. Share the link below with friends, family, neighbours, and your window cleaners to get this vital issue the attention it deserves.


In other news

bowel care for neurological conditions invitation

  • A colourful infographic highlighting the campaign milestones for the Serious Sh1t campaign has been shared on social media. We are hosting a roundtable event for the campaign at Westminster (which will be co-chaired by Andy McDonald MP and Dr Mohammed Belal), to discuss the next steps. Look out for an update on how this went in the next blog.
  • The National Wound Care Strategy Alliance have agreed to redesign their patient leaflets and website as a result of us raising our concerns to them around pressure ulcer diagnosis in non-Caucasian skin tones.

Carenomics meeting

  • We also attended the Carenomics summit in Parliament which was organised on the back of a brilliant report by the Future Social Care Coalition. We have a hard copy of the report for anyone who prefers reading in that way, but the digital link is available below.

DOWNLOAD the Carenomics report

  • The Covid-19 enquiry is ongoing (who’s following with keen interest?) and we are working closely with Hudgell solicitors in preparation for our involvement in providing evidence.

If January is anything to go by, 2024 promises to be a very busy year but there are a lot of exciting things to look forward to.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Dharshana and Glyn