What are you looking for?

17 May 2024 | Comment | Article by Louise Gardner

Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day | Bowel management – This is #SeriousSh!t

Louise Gardner, Senior Associate in our Serious Injury department, on Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day supports the Spinal Injuries Association’s (SIA) campaign to improve bowel care in medical settings for those with spinal cord injuries (SCI).

Hugh James, alongside health professionals, carers and politicians are backing a major campaign by the SIA to stop spinal cord patients suffering neglect because they are being denied essential bowel care in medical settings. 

The campaign explains that spinal cord injury does not just affect the ability to walk, but all bodily functions below the point of injury, including bladder and bowel function. SCI patients need interventions to help them empty their bowels at a convenient time to prevent constipation and incontinence.

Spinal Injuries Association bowel management campaign

Often, SCI patients rely on another person to undertake these interventions – and that can be a huge problem when SCI patients have to go into healthcare settings, because healthcare professionals require training to understand the importance of and how to deliver these intimate care requirements.

A lack of appropriate bowel care can impact more than bodily functions. The psychological and emotional impact of poor care can cause social isolation and restrictions which often can result in low mood, depression, reduced self esteem.

The SIA have discovered that there is a widespread failure of care in appropriate bowel care; a consequence of a lack of policy and a lack of training for far too many healthcare professionals.

A Freedom of Information request was made by the SIA to all NHS England Trusts, the Welsh Health Boards and the Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland. That request illustrates that of the 123 NHS trusts across England contacted, only 54 reported having a formal written policy for dealing with the specialist bowel care required for those with a spinal cord injury.

Concerningly, 26 trusts admitted they had no bowel assessment and management policy in place at all and 65 trusts said they didn’t have a policy that allows for personal care assistants/carers to assist with the bowel care element of the patient’s care.

Dave Bracher, SIA campaigns manager observes,

“Many will be shocked and appalled to hear some of the stories we are going to be sharing as part of our campaign, but this is the reality of life for far too many spinal cord injured people.”

As a Serious Injury team we represent patients with spinal cord injuries for whom bowel care post injury has been and can continue to be problematic when accessing medical care in healthcare settings.

We support the SIA’s campaign to improve awareness, improve policy, training and support in respect of bowel management within the numerous NHS Trusts across the UK.

We encourage others to raise awareness and support the SIA in their campaign by contacting their local MP and understanding what policies your local healthcare trust has in place. The campaign can provide guidance in making these enquiries. Dave, campaign manager can be contacted on [email protected].

The Serious Injury Team at Hugh James specialise in representing clients who have suffered a spinal cord injury, including those injuries sustained in road traffic collisions, incidents at work and through assaults via the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).

Families of those that have sustained catastrophic injury including serious spinal cord injury can access the Hugh James Emergency Fund to apply for financial support to help fund costs of travel and accommodation whilst their family member is in hospital or in patient rehabilitation.

Author bio

Louise Gardner

Senior Associate

Louise Gardner is a senior associate in our serious injuries team representing claimants with traumatic brain injuries. Louise joined Hugh James in 2023. Louise’ cases are often complex, can involve disputed liability and involve significant damages. She has a proven track record of securing rehabilitation, therapies, interim payments and support for her clients as well as significant compensation for her clients.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


Next steps

We’re here to get things moving. Drop a message to one of our experts and we’ll get straight back to you.

Call us: 033 3016 2222

Message us