Labour 'Is Failing to Aid Brain Injured' Road to Recovery: Some Patients Are Wrongly Committed to Psychiatric Hospitals or Even Prison
Byline: Jenny Hudson
Health Minister Jacqui Smith during a visit to Birmingham yesterday faced calls for the Government to focus on the needs of brain injury victims.
Many patients do not get the right treatment and their serious problems mean they can end up in psychiatric hospitals or even prison.
Although more people are surviving brain injuries than ever before, community services have failed to keep pace with demand.
A survey last year revealed the West Midlands has fewer spe-cialist rehabilitation beds than any other region in the country, with just 16.8 beds per million.
Ms Smith, the Labour MP for Redditch, met experts who run West Heath House which provides support for people with challenging behaviour and a community integration unit.
Barrie Oldham, director of brain injury services for the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust which runs the unit, said one million people suffer brain injuries in the UK each year. Of those, 3,000 will need further specialist care.
With the right support, about 60 per cent of victims are able to recover and live independently.
But if they do not receive rehabilitation, their future is limited. Mr Oldham said: 'They are likely to end up in psychiatric services and a number of people even end up in prison because of their difficulties.
'It is like a switch has been turned off - people are often affected emotionally and in their behaviour. They lose the switch which tells you that you shouldn't do something.'
West Heath provides 10 beds for people with challenging behaviour and a 15-bed unit for people who need to develop skills which will enable them to integrate into the community. …