Brain injury rehabilitation has been driven to crisis point by a perfect Covid-19 storm – destroying NHS capacity and devastating third sector funding, according to a new report.
Exchange Chambers and brain injury charity Calvert Reconnections polled a wide range of the country’s most senior brain injury solicitors.
Analysis of the findings reveals that 89% of brain injury solicitors believe rehabilitation standards have dropped as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, with 92% saying that brain injury rehabilitation is going to be more reliant than ever on the private and charitable sectors moving forward.
Alarmingly, 70% of respondents believe that charities are being forced to cut back on support measures for brain injured patients as a result of financially-related Covid-19 pressures.
While virtual rehabilitation has become commonplace in recent months, there are doubts over its long-term viability, with 63% expressing concerns over its effectiveness.
With social distancing measures likely to remain in place for some months, 91% of respondents anticipate an increase in the use of outdoor activities in the rehabilitation plans for brain injured patients.
Bill Braithwaite QC, Head of Exchange Chambers and Trustee at Calvert Reconnections said:
“Covid-19 has driven brain injury rehabilitation to crisis point.
“The NHS is overwhelmed and charities are under severe financial pressure. It is the perfect storm.
“While virtual rehabilitation has plugged the gap, it is not a long-term solution.
“Moving forward, and taking into account Covid-19 considerations such as social distancing, everything points towards brain injury rehabilitation being at its most effective when traditional clinical therapies are combined with physical activity in the outdoors. There is considerable support from medical research for the notion that outdoor activity is beneficial to brain injury rehabilitation.”
Said Femke van Schelven, Specialist Neurological Physiotherapist at Calvert Reconnections:
“It is clear that the NHS has had to massively reconfigure services to manage the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“We now need to prepare for the incoming tidal wave of need for rehabilitation as we recover from this pandemic – both for those that have had their rehabilitation affected by an over stretched NHS, and for those whose condition has deteriorated during self-isolation and lock down.”
In other research findings, just over a quarter (26%) of brain injury solicitors said that the other side have used Covid-19 as a tactic to stall the litigation process – despite best practice guidance suggesting the parties take a consensual approach.
Added Bill Braithwaite QC:
“While it’s encouraging that the majority of lawyers are following the best practice guidelines, it’s disappointing that others are using Covid-19 as a stalling tactic.”
The report is the second research project Calvert Reconnections and Exchange Chambers have commissioned this year. An earlier, pre Covid-19 study, found that the recovery prospects of brain injured patients are being jeopardised by a chronic lack of resources. 71% of brain injury solicitors said that the NHS is unable to provide effective support for brain injured patients while 97% pointed to a lack of residential-based brain injury rehabilitation units in the UK.