Chris Bryant, MP for Rhondda Cynon Taff and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Acquired Brain Injury, is the sponsor of the Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) Private Members’ Bill, which was due to be debated in the House of Commons on Friday 3rd December 2021.
Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is a leading cause of death and disability affecting over 1.3 million people and costing £15 billion to the UK economy each year. It is an issue for the Departments of Health and Social Care; Work and Pensions; Education; and Digital, Culture, Media & Sport; and the Ministries of Justice, Defence, Housing Communities and Local Government. Chris Bryant’s sponsored Bill commits the government to prepare and publish a strategy to meet the needs of children and adults with an ABI and supports a national cross-departmental strategy for Acquired Brain Injury, which he says is “long overdue”.
Bryant’s proposed Bill stated that the Secretary of State must prepare and publish a document (“the acquired brain injury strategy”) setting out a strategy for meeting the needs of persons with acquired brain injury by improving the provision of relevant services to such persons by the following public bodies:
(a) local authorities,
(b) NHS bodies,
(c) NHS foundation trusts,
(d) the Ministry of Defence, 10
(e) HM Prison Service,
(f) the Department for Work and Pensions, and
(g) the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
Bryant’s Bill had garnered much support from Headway, The Children’s Trust, CBIT, The Disabilities Trust and UK ABIF, as well as at Hugh James.
Within the Neurolaw team, a large number of our clients have some form of acquired brain injury, and we often see first-hand the difficulties that they face accessing the appropriate care and assistance that they require once they have been discharged back into the community. This care can be disjointed and can have a detrimental impact on our client’s rehabilitation and their reintegration back into the community after their injury, which often leads to a host of health and social issues. It is vitally important to the care of acquired brain injury suffers that a strategy is in place.
In a statement made on 02 December 2021 by Gillian Keegan, Minister for Care and Mental Health, that the Government is committed to supporting all people living with an ABI and those living with other neurological conditions and seeks to prevent Acquired Brain Injuries wherever possible.
Gillian Keegan stated: “The Government recognises the strength of support for a more collaborative and cross-departmental approach to ensuring that people with ABI receive the support that they need from statutory services. I would like to express my gratitude to both the Right Honourable Member for South Holland and the Deepings and the Honourable Member for Rhondda for continuing to champion this important cause and recognise their significant contributions to improving services for people living with an ABI. As the Prime Minister announced on 24 November 2021, the Department of Health and Social Care will be leading work to develop a cross government strategy on ABI. I am pleased to confirm today some further details regarding the strategy.
The content of the strategy will be informed by a Call for Evidence which will be launched early in 2022, inviting stakeholders nationwide, including healthcare professionals, people living with an acquired brain injury, their families and carers, to put forward their views about what should be prioritised within the strategy. These priorities could include guidance on action to prevent acquired brain injury, including through concussion in sport; on research into the societal, congenital, medical and environmental causes of ABI; on the provision of relevant services for the purpose of diagnosing ABI, including in prisons, schools and the armed forces; on the identification of adults and children with ABI; on the assessment of their needs; and on the planning of relevant services. We will also ask for feedback on whether there are other related neurological conditions which should be considered for inclusion.
Development of the strategy will be overseen by a dedicated Programme Board, which, in my capacity as Minister of State for Care and Mental Health, I will co-chair with the Honourable Member for Rhondda. Senior officials in all relevant government departments will be invited to join the board to ensure that the strategy addresses the wide range of issues that affect the day to day lives of those living with an ABI. This will include representatives from the Welsh government and other devolved administrations, as appropriate.
Following publication, the strategy will be kept under review and may be revised periodically to ensure that it continues to reflect the priority areas and actions needed to best support people living with ABI and their families.”
This is excellent news for anyone living with ABI, as well as their families who provide vital support. We hope that this will provide a more collaborative approach from the public bodies involved in caring for and supporting people who have suffered an ABI. We would also like to offer our congratulations to Chris Bryant MP for his success in bringing about change for ABI suffers throughout the UK.