Wearsiders who have suffered serious brain injuries will be able to call on help from a new £1million NHS service, it has been announced.
Jointly commissioned by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in Sunderland and Gateshead and provided by Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, it will offer specialist assessment, rehabilitation and community support for patients.
This new service will be of real benefit to this group of people.Dr Valerie Taylor
Services are being extended into Sunderland for the first time to aid those with mild to moderate injuries, as well as more severe cases, while existing services in Gateshead will be expanded.
Common symptoms include physical and sensory difficulties, problems with emotional control, communication, memory, and the ability to manage day-to-day tasks that were previously considered easy.
The news has been welcomed by the families of patients who are dealing with the effects a brain injury can cause.
Sunderland mum Margaret Ellens, 83, has cared for her son Peter, 51, since he was injured in a road accident while studying in the United States in 1992.
“This will make a big difference for people like me who use health services in Sunderland,” she said.
“Peter was well cared for in hospital but even though I am a trained nurse, it can be confusing and difficult once you get home.
“Having a dedicated service with someone to guide you through, someone you can talk to about problems, will be a real help for families affected by brain injuries.”
The two CCGs have invested an additional £1million per year in the service, which will offer assessment, advice and specialist rehabilitation, helping people with ongoing problems to regain their independence and functions as far as possible, as well as adapting to any long-term challenges from their injury.
The team will work with local services and voluntary organisations to deliver a full range of rehabilitation services, including family and peer support. It will be formally inviting referrals from GPs, emergency departments, hospitals and the community from this month.
Dr Valerie Taylor, clinical vice chairman of NHS Sunderland CCG, said: “This is a new service in Sunderland, and by working in conjunction with Gateshead we have been able to build on their service’s strong track record and ensure a good quality service for our patients.”