ABIL September 2016 Conference: Improving the Pathway after Brain Injury

On the hottest September day for over 100 years,  ABIL welcomed delegates and presenters from the Neuro-Navigators Group, a CCG Commissioner and Headway Groups in London to focus on what actions are being taken to improve the pathway after brain injury.

We heard from Susan Brown (Complex Neuro Navigator, Ealing CCG) and Jodie Carolan (Interim Clinical Manager, South East London Neuro Navigation Service) about the role of Neuro-Navigators to reach in to hospitals, rehabilitation units and other community services to identify patients’ needs at that particular time. They said how they need to identify the ‘right place, right service, right time’ to facilitate smooth transitions between hospitals and specialist neurological rehabilitation services and to use knowledge of local resources to direct referrals to the most appropriate services. In the London boroughs where neuro navigators are currently operating, their work has proved to be very successful. There are still gaps in some areas of London, but it is hoped these will be filled in due course.

Alan Brackpool (Head of Continuing Healthcare & Neuroscience Lead, Barnet Clinical Commissioning Group) shared the view that at a local CCG level there should be a lead commissioner and clinical lead for brain injury beyond neurology in general. He asked ‘How do we raise the profile of neuro rehabilitation and brain injury?’ and said that the provision of specialist community neurorehabilitation services should be included in the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) of CCGs for 2017. Challenges included: brain Injury not being perceived as a long term condition; and the current pathway not being well enough understood.


Headway’s Early Intervention Services at Major Trauma Centres in London was presented by Seán Kinahan (Casework Manager, Headway East London) and Penny Cooke (Link worker, Headway West London), and there was a presentation prepared by Brian Sladen and Andrea Fell-Smith (Headway South East London/North West Kent). They felt that being based in outpatient clinics or rehabilitation units had proved effective as the clinicians are able to concentrate on the person’s neurological and physical health, and the Linkworker or casework staff are able to focus on other aspects of concern to the person and offer 1:1 emotional support and encouragement to cope with ongoing difficulties as well as offering carer support and guidance and referrals to local Headway support and other agencies. Ongoing challenges include keeping in touch with a large number of contacts, the complex needs of patients, the wide catchment area covered, the capacity of local services and waiting times as well as variability of Headway services in different locations.

The presentations were followed by case studies and a lively discussion.

ABIL is grateful to Irwin Mitchell for providing refreshments and cake as well as the unexpected arrival of ice cream during the afternoon, which was most welcome as we endured the heat!

Tony Hart – Chair of ABIL

The presentations can be downloaded here abil-sept-2016-conference-presentations and further information on the Headway East London Early Intervention Project  here headway-east-london-early-intervention-background-research