At a recent meeting of the All-Party Group on Spinal Cord Injury, attended by Minister of State (Minister for Care), Helen Whately, concerns were raised over the loss of specialist beds in the NHS for spinally injured claimants through Covid-19 and the risk that they will not be returned to spinal care. 
Keoghs have spoken to representatives in the health sector to take soundings on the current situation. It is true to say that spinal beds were vacated and transferred to Covid-19 patient care as the first and second wave swept the UK. Many spinally injured claimants were discharged into the community much sooner than would ordinarily be the case, and before they had received the level of support and rehabilitation they needed. Within the midst of a pandemic, desperate times called for desperate measures but anyone dealing with spinally injured claims knows that delays in rehabilitation can carry a heavy price.
Recent experience shows that a bed shortage in spinal injury centres was already causing issues for spinally injured individuals who were being discharged far sooner than would ordinarily be the case. Covid-19 has exacerbated this.
How might the current situation develop over the next few months and what impact might this have on claims handling? Here are some thoughts:
The message to insurers is likely to be that they have to embrace and even encourage private therapy; to sit back and leave the NHS to deliver will risk prolonging the life cycle, increase care costs and likely further entrench the claimant’s view of the compensator. Short term investment is more likely to prove money well spent in the long term.
This philosophy is not new and is one that insurers have always embraced in spinal claims; the problem post-Covid-19 is that the volume of cases that have stalled due to premature, sub-optimal discharge by the NHS will have exploded.
For more information, please contact Emma Spencer, Partner and Head of the Spinal Group.
Spinal Injuries Special Interest Group Lead
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