Recovery prospects of brain injured patients jeopardised by chronic lack of resources

January 21, 2020

The recovery prospects of brain injured patients are being jeopardised by a chronic lack of resources – according to a new report.

The research, by barristers Exchange Chambers and brain injury rehabilitation charity Calvert Reconnections, examines the effectiveness of the brain injury recovery process through a series of in-depth interviews with the country’s most senior brain injury solicitors.

71% of brain injury solicitors taking part in the 8-week study said that the NHS is unable to provide effective support for brain injured patients. 97% believe there are a lack of residential-based brain injury rehabilitation units in the UK.

Referring to the lack of faith in NHS brain injury care, Bill Braithwaite QC, Head of Exchange Chambers and expert advisor to Calvert Reconnections said:

“I’m not at all surprised. Acute care is often very good but subsequent rehabilitation can be hit and miss, doubtless because of shortage of money. That is why the private and charitable sectors are so important.”

Delays and early resistance continue to be claimant lawyers’ main concerns with insurers handling brain injury cases – but solicitors believe greater cooperation by insurers has been the greatest advance over the past three years.

This was placed above advances in treatment and the greater number of rehabilitation units now available, with 56% of respondents reporting improved cooperation so patients gain earlier access to rehabilitation.

Asked about their experiences over the last 12 months, 88% of claimant solicitors said defence solicitors have failed to respond to their request for rehabilitation within 21 days, while 68% cited a refusal to accept the recommendations of the Initial Needs Assessment. 70% believe the Rehabilitation Code should be made compulsory while 81% said the process for securing interim payments under part 25 of the Civil Procedure Rules is too costly and time consuming.

Continued Bill Braithwaite QC:

“This research suggests that in many cases, lawyers often cannot agree on the most obvious recommendations as a starting point.

“Delay is hugely damaging to anyone who has suffered a brain injury. Sensible dialogue on both sides would improve the problem as rehabilitation will only work at its best if both sides enter into it voluntarily.”

The report also points to the positive role outdoor activities can play in brain injury rehabilitation. Walking is viewed as the most effective activity, followed by fishing, gardening, horse riding, cycling, water sports and orienteering.

Concluded Bill Braithwaite QC:

“There is considerable medical support for the notion that outdoor activity is helpful in brain injury rehabilitation. The challenge moving forward is to incorporate outdoor activities into rehabilitation plans wherever appropriate.”