Public Affairs Update July 2018
In the last few weeks, the Public Affairs team have been very active in meeting some influential figures at Westminster. Dave Bracher (SIA’s Campaigns Manager) and Dan Burden (Head of Public Affairs) had very constructive meetings with Owen Paterson MP, Diana Johnson MP, Helen Whately MP, Mark Tami MP and Sir Roger Gale MP, all of which focused on distinct aspects of our campaigning.
Mr. Paterson recently spent several weeks in Oswestry SCI (Spinal Cord Injury) Centre following a horse riding accident and counts himself very lucky not to have been much more seriously injured. He is now making a strong recovery and was keen to discuss the issues currently facing SCI Centres across the country. Diana Johnson is a member of the influential Health & Social Care Committee and we wanted to seek her views about the planned budget cuts to the national NHS Continuing Healthcare budget, whilst Helen Whately (who we’ve met with previously) wanted to learn more about our members experiences of flying.
The meeting with Mark Tami MP focused on NHS Continuing Healthcare in general and particularly the differences with Continuing Healthcare in Wales, which is where Mr. Tami’s constituency is. Sir Roger Gale was keen to talk about his concerns about the Personal Independence Payments system and the issues he’s dealt with on behalf of his North Thanet constituents – with a 100% success rate! All these MP’s are very enthusiastic about supporting SIA in the future, for example by tabling Parliamentary Questions, speaking with colleagues in Westminster and writing to Clinical Commissioning Groups.
Dan Burden also met with Lord O’Shaugnessy, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health (Lords) in the Department for Health and Social Care. They discussed the bed provision in SCI Centres and how winter bed pressures in host NHS trusts have led to specialist beds being used for general patients, rather than spinal cord injured people. SIA’s grave concern with this is that a substantial number of beds in some SCI Centres have effectively been unavailable to SCI people for upwards of a third of a year.
Away from Westminster, Dan also met with Neil McDonald, the Chief Executive for Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust, to discuss SCI specialist service provision and ensuring the highest quality of specialist care for spinal cord injured people. It was also the annual Guttmann Conference, which this year was hosted by Sheffield SCI Centre and which Dave attended on behalf of SIA.