Friday, 18 May 2012

Head injuries illustrate the point

An article appeared in The Times on Saturday 12th May about the 'silent epidemic' of head injury victims lacking support.

It was a shocking article - head injuries can leave people with some enormously challenging disabilities that are often invisible to many. It  really highlighted for me the issues for patients with long-term conditions.

"But while improvements in paramedic and acute care are rapid, the care provided to victims after they leave hospital is poor. . . . patients who receive the best treatment that the NHS can offer, at significant cost, immediately after suffering a trauma are then left to resume life, often with disastrous outcomes."

The critical stuff in A&E and the operating theatre is glamorous and emotive enough to secure funding and research hours. But the NHS has to look at the bigger picture - what happens when that patient is discharged? It is quite interesting and distressing that as soon as head injury becomes a long-term condition, the NHS is failing many of these patients whom is had served so well when they presented as an acute case.

The charity Headway is addressing this. It seems odd that the area of treatment for these patients that is the most costly, technologically and medically difficult is the one that has been addressed most successfully! The simple interventions of counsellors, social workers, community nurses - i.e. human hours - is hopefully no longer going to be neglected.

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