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Funding boost for Spinal Centres announced

A welcome funding boost for specialist Spinal Centres was announced at the recent ‘National Spinal Cord Injury Workshop’ hosted by NHS England and NHS Improvement.

The workshop was an opportunity for representatives from the Spinal Centres, Spinal Surgery Units, Major Trauma Units, Regional Commissioners, professional bodies and spinal charities to come together to discuss the current challenges in spinal services, learn from each other, agree how to build standardisation across the system, hear views on how quality of care and outcomes for patients could be improved and start to work more closely as a network to improve care for SCI people

This is against a background of no significant progress in changing care at Spinal Centres in recent years, a worrying increase in delays to admission for newly-injured people and out-patients, significant issues with discharging people from the Centres and a well-recognised need to improve standards of care and provide appropriate resource to the Spinal Centres across England.

There were a number of presentations during the day, including one from SIA to highlight the patient voice as being key to developing solutions. Although it was recognised during the course of the day that the Spinal Centres are dealing with long-term issues that will require long-term solutions, it was also clear that there’s much that can be done in the shorter term to improve standards, develop more consistency between the Centres and drive changes that will benefit SCI people.

NHS England and NHS Improvement made a significant funding announcement during the Workshop, with £3m available in 2020/21 and a further £3m in 2021/22. This funding is essentially for two types of bids – transactional models, that will generate quick wins to improve care, efficiency and unblock barriers, and transformational models which are aligned with the network model and clinical standards and can be mobilised within 12 months. The overall aim is to improve SCI services nationally, not just on a local basis.

SIA sees this as a fantastic opportunity for Spinal Centres in England, as it potentially gives them some hard cash to generate real innovation to the service and improve service delivery for SCI people. SIA hopes to be part of the team that will assess the bids and decide where the 2020/21 money is spent, and has a follow-up meeting with the Lead Commissioner for Spinal Services at NHS England to secure this goal.

SIA remains fully committed to actively support and advocate on behalf of specialist Spinal Centres at every opportunity, to make sure the patient voice that we represent is at the centre of any decision-making processes and to ensure the Centres deliver a timely, high-quality and lifelong service to all SCI people.