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UKABIF 10th Annual Conference 2018 – Meeting Overview

Dr Andrew Bateman, UKABIF Chair, welcomed delegates to the organisation’s 10th Annual and 20th Anniversary Conference, held today at the Royal Society of Medicine in London.

Colonel Alan Mistlin, Chair of the Clinical Reference Group for Rehabilitation and Disability opened the meeting by outlining the development and future of specialised rehabilitation.  “The current services are probably not what we would set up now, but there’s lots of work in progress” concluded Alan.  The role of the updated Rehabilitation Prescription (RP) was discussed by Hannah Farrell, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.  Hannah said: “The RP is not just a tick box exercise.  It should be used for every patient with rehabilitation needs and  this is a major challenge going forwards”.

Chris Bryant MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) highlighted the recently launched report ‘Acquired Brain Injury and Neurorehabilitation: Time for Change’.  Many of the issues outlined in the report were discussed throughout the UKABIF conference.  Chris emphasised his dedication to ‘the cause’ and said that the APPG is determined to unite government departments and drive change for brain injury survivors.

There is clear evidence of the different causality of brain injury between men and women in prison, with the females being at greater risk of repeated brain injury from domestic abuse.  Dr Ivan Pitman, Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust (BIRT) discussed the findings from BIRT’s Brain Injury Linkworker service in a women’s prison.  With regard to children and young people with an ABI, Professor Nathan Hughes, University of Sheffield said: “Recognising brain injury is key to being able to provide the right support in schools, to prevent disengagement, exclusion and possible  offending behaviour”.  Nathan discussed the issues surrounding the recognition and response to ABI and the discriminatory criminal justice processes, and emphasised the need to change systems and processes to accommodate these young people.

“The cornerstone of disability law is that the employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments for the employee” said Emma Satyamurti, Leigh Day looking at the challenges of returning to work following a brain injury.  Emma reviewed examples of ‘reasonable adjustment’ including a change of tasks, location, working hours and different approaches to managing absence and performance behaviour.

Dawn Astle concluded the formal conference programme by telling the story of her father, Jeff Astle, an English footballer nicknamed ‘the King’ by fans, who won five caps for England.  Jeff was the first British professional footballer to die from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, aged just 59 years.  The Jeff Astle Foundation was established in 2015 to raise awareness of brain injury, and to provide much needed support to those affected.

Several awards were presented during a champagne reception.  The winners of the UKABIF Film Award 2018 were Kathryn Cann for the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, Lauren Nicholas for the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability Anne Johnston and Jeremiah Humphreys-Piercy.  The UKABIF Stephen McAleese Award for Inspiration went to Verity Fisher at the National Star College in Cheltenham.  UKABIF also announced a new Innovation Award, sponsored by the National Institute for Health Research, which will take effect from 2019.

UKABIF would like to thank the conference sponsors Cygnet Health Care, Elysium, Irwin Mitchell solicitors, Leigh Day and Sintons Law, the many companies that exhibited and the excellent poster presentations.