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Headway - making a difference.

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The brain injury charity Headway have recently re-launched their GP campaign to call once more for Headway supporters across the UK to get their message out to GPs.

The re-launch has come at a time when according the to Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) patient care is being compromised by a “chronic lack of investment” in GPs.

In a recent report the RCGP claimed GP funding in England had reached its lowest level on record. Funding for family doctors now account for 8.5% of the NHS budget compared to 10.95% 8 years ago. This is despite the fact that 90% of NHS patient contacts are made in general practice.

Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the RCGP said “there needs to be a shift so that more NHS funding is spent on care in the community which would help to reduce the burden on hospitals and other services”.

The RCGP are campaigning for a share of the NHS budget spent on general practice to be increased to 11% by 2017. Headway spokesman Luke Griggs said the charity recognises pressures on GPs but was concerned about patients with brain injuries slipping through the net and failing to receive appropriate treatment and rehabilitation. He pointed out that GPS may not understand or recognise the symptoms of brain injury or simply not have the right tools or information to be able to help.

Headway is keen to do more to assist GPs with the complicated task of identifying brain injury symptoms and ensure they have detailed information about appropriate treatments and support options to refer patients.

We wholeheartedly support Headway in this campaign.

Our work with victims of head injury and their families indicates that the lack of community support and assistance is a real and daily issue.

Families of those who suffer devastating brain injury often have to fight through a complex network of referrals and organisations in order to access appropriate care. In many cases it is the family members who become the experts on caring for and arranging treatment for those with serious brain injuries.

Those who suffer minor brain injury or perhaps have a constellation of injuries including head injury often find that the problem is simply a delay in or lack of diagnosis. These individuals may put their problems at work and home down to depression, the challenges posed by the physical injury or other unrelated factors. Many of these individuals may not receive a diagnosis of a brain injury until many months or even years after an incident. This means that they are deprived of the opportunity to seek appropriate support and treatment when it can be most effective.

GPs are the gateway to other medical services within the NHS. It is vitally important that GPs are able to recognise and understand the range of effects of a brain injury. We would encourage them to work with Headway to provide the maximum benefit for those who have suffered a life changing head injury.

We are delighted to see that brain injury survivors in and around Cardiff now have more access to high quality advice and support thanks to the appointment of a welfare benefits advisor at Headway Cardiff.

The application procedures for new benefits including ESA and PIP are complex and challenging. Those who suffer brain injury may find that problems from the injury impact upon their ability to deal with the application. Low quality applications can result in benefits not being awarded or even being lost. This adds to the stress and anxiety. It can result in financial hardship for the families. We can see an increasing need for this sort of service across the country.