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NHS Long Term Plan - statement from Spinal Injuries Association

NHS Long Term Plan; by working together, we can deliver a better deal for patients.

Every spinal cord injured (SCI) person must have access to the lifelong care and support that is essential to a fulfilled life. We welcome the ideas in the NHS Long Term Plan, including more care closer to home and out of acute settings, and giving patients more control over the care they receive. We are keen to work with NHS decision makers and use our extensive knowledge and experience to help design and deliver care that works for every SCI person. We look forward to more detailed announcements on how the current and future needs of SCI people will be met.

The existing system of care for SCI people is in crisis and needs urgent action. The NHS itself recognises the need for 54 new beds to meet increased demand in the national spinal cord injury centre service but at the same time it is taking beds away from SCI people to meet winter pressures caused elsewhere in the system. Drastic cuts in long term care provision for severely disabled people have reduced the care provided to unsafe levels. A postcode lottery of care exists, there are lengthy delays in assessments, and NHS England is determined to press ahead with cuts to the NHS Continuing Healthcare budget of £855 million by 2020-21.  And of course, we await the government’s views on the future of social care. These grave concerns must be addressed immediately. We cannot wait for ten years for the Long Term Plan before we find a solution.

Whilst the additional funding is welcome, it remains below the increases of 4% per annum that independent experts feel is necessary to modernise and improve services. A detailed explanation of where that money will come from must be provided if the plan is to be credible. Ongoing Brexit uncertainty and a high level of vacancies in the health service harm SCI people and add further challenges to NHS managers as they work to deliver these well intentioned plans.

Christa Dyson, Senior Vice Chair of the Spinal Injuries Association, said:

“We welcome the intentions of the NHS Long Term Plan but keenly await further announcements on what this means for SCI people who rely on the NHS as a vital lifeline. Change cannot come soon enough. By working together, we know we can deliver a better deal for SCI people. We hope that the Long Term Plan will act as a catalyst to make a fulfilled life for every SCI person a certainty not a matter of chance.”