The government has launched an open consultation and call for evidence to help develop its acquired brain injury (ABI) strategy.
The consultation asks for opinions and ideas from people who are living with ABI, their families, carers, and other professionals or organisations with who work with acquired brain injury. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), which is running the consultation, also welcomes research, data and other written submissions from individuals or organisations with an interest and expertise in acquired brain injury. The call for evidence includes questions about which areas the government should prioritise and focus on, and whether its brain injury strategy should include other types of brain injury, such as cerebral palsy and other neurological conditions.
As with other recent government consultations, the DHSC asks those living and working with brain injury to put forward opinions and ideas, rather than setting out any specific proposals of its own.
The call for evidence will run for 12 weeks and is open to organisations or individuals aged 16 or over. The responses to the consultation will be used to help the government develop and build its acquired brain injury strategy.
What is acquired brain injury (ABI)?
Acquired brain injury or ABI refers to an injury or damage to the brain which happens at any time during the person’s life. Acquired brain injury is life-changing, often causing severe physical disability, but also affecting the injured person’s cognitive, sensory, emotional and behavioural function. People with ABI often face lifelong difficulties with mobility and independent living, learning and working, communicating with others and participating in a full and active life. They often need significant amounts of help and support to be able to live safely, cope with everyday situations and do things that those without ABI take for granted.
ABI does not refer to mental illness or neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. It is also different from congenital or genetic injuries to the brain, which affect the development of an unborn baby’s brain before birth.
The term ‘acquired brain injury’ or ‘ABI’ can be used to describe both non-traumatic and traumatic brain injury (TBI), depending on how the injury occurred. Traumatic brain injuries are caused by something external hitting the head. Common causes of TBI include collisions in road traffic accidents, falls from heights, being assaulted, sporting accidents, or being hit by falling objects or machinery at work. Non-traumatic brain injuries have many causes, but are often caused by something that affects the brain from inside the body. Common causes of non-traumatic brain injury include hypoxia (lack of oxygen), tumours, infection, strokes, metabolic diseases (such as kidney or liver disease or diabetic coma), or inhaled or ingested toxins.
What is the acquired brain injury call for evidence?
The government has committed to set out an acquired brain injury strategy to help support people whose lives are affected by ABI. The DHSC is leading the work to develop the strategy, which the government says will include (but should not be limited to) health and social care, access to employment opportunities and benefits, and housing. The call for evidence is asking all who have either personal or professional experience of acquired brain injury to contribute by giving their views on what should be prioritised within the strategy.
What questions are included in the ABI consultation?
The consultation invites people to give their views about how the government should support people living with acquired brain injury. Responses are not restricted to set questions and can be made by email, but many people will find it easier to answer some or all of the government’s questions via the online survey.
The survey questions ask for information about respondents’ own experience of ABI, such as:
- whether they have ever had an ABI;
- how and when their ABI occurred;
- their care needs as a result of their brain injury;
- what type of ABI they have, with examples, such as:
The survey asks carers about their caring or support responsibilities for someone with ABI, and about whether they have any other long term health conditions.
The consultation calls for evidence to inform the government’s ABI strategy, but also asks whether the strategy should consider other neurological conditions, such as:
- cerebral palsy;
- motor neurone disease;
- multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Parkinson’s disease;
- not sure;
- none of the above;
- or something else.
It also asks respondents whether they want the ABI strategy to focus on or prioritise any of the following areas:
- awareness, identification and prevention of acquired brain injury;
- healthcare, including staffing, assessment, triage, diagnosis and rehabilitation;
- social care, including financial help, and support to live safely and independently within the community;
- sport, including guidance on safer sport;
- housing, including transitional accommodation, assisted living, and adaptations to support independent living;
- supporting specific groups, such as victims of violence or people in education, or experiencing homelessness;
- identifying and addressing disparities in care and support;
- or something else.
What happens next?
The call for evidence closes at 11.45pm on 6th June 2022. The government says that the evidence that is gathered will then be used to inform the priorities, content and actions to be included in the acquired brain injury strategy. Updates to the strategy will then be published in due course.
Boyes Turner’s brain injury specialists are currently helping hundreds of individuals and their families recover compensation to rebuild their lives after brain injury. Our clients come from all walks of life, and have suffered devastating injuries, as a result of accidents on the road, in the workplace, or as a result of medical negligence. Through compensation we help them pay for care, suitable housing and other essential equipment and support. We help our ABI clients access timely, coordinated and specialist rehabilitation. However, for those whose brain injury has not resulted from circumstances which entitle them to compensation, there remains an unacceptable lack of financial help and specialist support.
If you or someone you care for are living with brain injury, we urge you to take this opportunity to have your say. You can make sure your views are heard and contribute to the consultation by sending an email or by completing the online survey at Acquired brain injury call for evidence - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
If you or a family member have suffered a brain injury as a result of an accident or medical negligence, you can talk to one of our specialist solicitors, free and confidentially, to find out more about making a claim by contacting us here.