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More people with spinal cord injury as a result of illness or condition

The world of spinal cord injury (SCI) is changing, an NHS report has announced. This has major implications for the care that SCI people receive, and SIA is responding to these changes by campaigning for every SCI person to get the help and support they need and deserve to lead a fulfilled life.

NHS England has published its first annual statement on its specialist SCI services. The report describes both the size and scale of specialist NHS support to spinal cord injured people. The report found that, across the eight English SCI Centres:

  • The proportion of people admitted with an SCI as a result of an illness or condition compared to an accident is increasing. In 2007/8, 71% of admissions were due to physical injury and this figure has now declined to 44%.
  • The average age at which a person sustains their SCI has increased. In 2007/8, it was 44 and the biggest age group was 21-30 year olds. However, in 2016/17, the average age had risen to 52 and the largest group were 65-69 year olds.
  • All the SCI Centres reported an increase in complexity of need, which may be linked to an ageing population with greater health issues.
  • Whilst many individuals are well supported by the SCI service, a quarter of SCI patients do not get into the SCI service which affects their long term rehabilitation and care.
  • There are delayed discharges due to failures elsewhere in the healthcare system.

Dan Burden, SIA’s Head of Public Affairs said:

“This report is invaluable in helping us to present the experiences of our SCI members to NHS decision makers. It reinforces what our members have been telling us – that access to vital specialist care is quite hit and miss. We are campaigning for the service to work for everyone, especially the large number of people with a SCI who are not getting the specialist help they need for their rehabilitation and ongoing care. Specifically we want to ensure access to specialist health services for all SCI people, increase capacity across the system, cut waiting times and improve local health services.”