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Dr Rupert Earl elected as new Chair of the Spinal Injuries Association

Dr Rupert Earl has been elected as Chair of the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) with a commitment to campaign for better healthcare and provision for the estimated 40,000 people who live with a spinal cord injury in the UK. He takes over from Michelle Howard following her three years’ service as Chair of Trustees.

Dr Rupert Earl has over 30 years of experience living with a spinal cord injury (C6 tetraplegia), having been injured in a road traffic accident whilst a student in 1979. He resumed his studies at Oxford University a year later and went on to gain a PhD in Biochemistry at Nottingham University. He was invited to join a newly-formed SIA working group on care funding in 2007 and shortly afterwards was elected as a Trustee. He has previously served as a Vice Chair and has been elected as Chair of the Spinal Injuries Association with effect from November 2017. He is the Honorary Lead for the Spinal Injuries Association on Care Policy. He has served on the charity’s Audit and Assurance Committee and plays a prominent role in the charity’s campaigning work. He recently chaired a Royal College of Nursing conference on neurogenic bowel care – care which is so important for spinal cord injured people.

Sue Browning, Chief Executive of the Spinal Injuries Association said: “We are delighted that Rupert has become our new Chair. His own personal experience of spinal cord injury shows that life goes on after illness or injury. His experience as a Trustee, Vice Chair and Honorary Lead on Care Policy make him the ideal person to lead SIA in its mission to support spinal cord injured people in leading fulfilled lives.”

Dr Earl said: “With advances in technology, living with paralysis due to a spinal cord injury has changed out of all recognition since my injury 30-plus years ago, when my ambition to return to University was derided, and I was told that I would be unable to write. Nonetheless, the fundamental care needs remain the same – spinal cord injury is a ‘non-improving’ condition – and so much remains to be done to help every spinal cord injured person attain their potential and lead a fulfilled life. Independent living is under threat through draconian cuts to NHS Continuing Healthcare and social care funding, and we must ensure that every spinal cord injured person gets the care and support they need and deserve, from the point of injury or diagnosis and throughout the rest of their lives. It’s an honour to Chair SIA and represent the interests of the spinal cord injured community – we are stronger together!”

 This announcement comes at an exciting time for the Spinal injuries Association (SIA) which earlier this year published its 2017/22 strategy ‘Fulfilled Lives’ setting out how the Milton Keynes-based charity will shape and develop its services over the next five years. With demand increasing for its services, the charity is expanding both the information and support it provides to spinal cord injured people and its campaigning activity to protect the rights of people living with a spinal cord injury. SIA has recently recruited its 10,000th member and is the largest user-led charity of its type.