ABI Bill needs you!

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ABI Bill needs you!

    …what we need to be able to do is give people back their quality of life after they've had an acquired brain injury.   

MP Chris Bryant [1]

 

There is nothing like a dame, a knight, and a doctor by your side when you're knocking on Parliament's door with a neurorehabilitation masterplan in your hand.

But the backing of MPs, Dame Margaret Hodge, Sir Graham Brady, and Dr Lisa Cameron is not enough to see Rhondda MP, Chris Bryant's Acquired Brain Injury Bill become an act.

Chris needs all the support he can muster as he battles to have an urgent national strategy for brain injury aftercare enshrined in law.

So why should we be urging our MPs to formally support the bill at its second reading in the House of Commons early next month?

"Unfortunately, in the UK, we haven't got a national strategy which copes with [acquired brain injury] problems," says Chris, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Acquired Brain Injury (APPG for ABI).

"My very simple acquired brain injury bill would require the Government to produce a strategy.

"It would require the government to review it and publish it."

 

#iBackTheABIBill

In a video on the #iBackTheABIBill campaign website [1], Chris points to the one million-plus people living with acquired brain injury – and the UK's annual £15 billion costs of caring for them. 

"One of the great things is that when somebody has a car crash or some other kind of traumatic accident, quite often we're able to save [them], whereas 15 to 20 years ago we weren't able to," he says. 

"But what we need to be able to do is give people back their quality of life after acquired brain injury."

According to the independent think tank, Centre for Mental Health, that hefty £15 billion costing equates to ten per cent of the yearly National Health Service (NHS) budget. [2]

And it includes the costs of:

 

  • Continuing disability
  • Health and social care
  • Lost work contributions
  • Lost production due to premature death

 

But for further fuel to take the ABI Bill to the finishing line, Labour MP Chris draws inspiration from the late Conservative MP, Dame Cheryl Gillan DBE.

While serving as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Autism, Dame Cheryl's bill in support of autistic people led to the Autism Act 2009, the first condition-specific legislation of its type. [3]

The act required the Government to publish an adult autism strategy to consolidate services for autistic adults the following year.

It was updated shortly after Dame Cheryl's death in April 2021 to include, for the first time, autistic children and young autistic people. [4]

Chris now wants to see a similar plan in place for people with acquired brain injury.

And he has firm support from the brain injury community, including Headway, The Children's Trust, the Child Brain Injury Trust, The Disabilities Trust, and the UK Acquired Brain Injury Forum (UKABIF).

 

Countdown to 04/23

Only this month, UKABIF reiterated the need for a national neurorehabilitation strategy and consistent ABI services at its Time for Change summit. [5]

The event marks the third year since the Time for Change report on ABI and neurorehabilitation was delivered to the Government. [6]

The report was drawn up by the APPG for ABI as a guide for a national neurorehabilitation strategy.

Among its recommendations to support ABI survivors are:

 

  • Early access to aligned neurorehabilitation services
  • More neurorehabilitation professionals, including occupational therapists
  • Rehabilitation prescriptions to maximise recovery

 

The report also calls for ABI training throughout the criminal justice, education, and welfare benefits sectors.

Echoing those recommendations, the Acquired Brain Injury Bill calls for 'a comprehensive strategy' that meets the needs of all ABI survivors to be drawn up no later than April 2023.

The strategy would see improvements in brain injury services provided by local authorities, the Ministry of Defence, the National Health Service and Prison Service, and the Government departments for Education, Work and Pensions, and Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport.

Chris says, "It's very simple. It's exactly what Cheryl Gillan did for autism…when her bill became an act.

"It's made a dramatic difference to how autism is treated across the whole of the UK. I want to do the same for acquired brain injury." 

The second reading of the Acquired Brain Injury Bill, which covers England and Wales, will be on December 3 – and Chris is urging everyone to back it.

"We need to ensure that as many MPs as possible formally support the bill," he says.

"This will give it the greatest chance of moving to the next stage and becoming legislation.

"You can help by asking your MP to support the bill, and you can also ask your colleagues and contacts to do the same."

 

MPs say yay!

Over 70 MPs, so far, have added their names to the #iBackTheABIBill list, with early signatories including:

 

  • Worsley and Eccles South MP, Barbara Keeley
  • South Shields MP, Emma Lewell-Buck
  • Neath MP, Christina Rees
  • Mitcham and Morden MP, Siobhain McDonagh
  • Wansbeck MP, Ian Lavery
  • Newport West MP, Ruth Jones
  • Liverpool, Riverside MP, Kim Johnson
  • Strangford MP, Jim Shannon
  • New Forest East, Julian Lewis
  • Brighton, Pavilion MP, Caroline Lucas
  • Ogmore MP, Chris Elmore
  • Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP, Margaret Ferrier
  • Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP, Neale Hanvey
  • Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock MP, Allan Dorans

 

And Liz Twist, MP for Blaydon, was delighted to share her support for the campaign with this Twitter message: 

   Very happy to support #ABI Bill from Chris Bryant. So important to have a thought-out plan to improve support for adults and children with Acquired Brain Injury.   

 

The #iBackTheABIBill website [1] has ideas on how to seek your MP's support for the ABI Bill

 

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References

  1. ABI Bill
  2. Centre for Mental Health: 'Traumatic brain injury costs £15 billion a year'
  3. Gov.UK: Autism guidance (pdf)
  4. Gov.UK: National Strategy for Autistic Children, Young People and Adults 2021 to 2026
  5. UKABIF Time for Change Summit 2021 (pdf)
  6. APPG for ABI report: Time for Change (pdf)

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