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Welfare Reform concern for brain injury patients with or without litigation

September 7, 2013

Welfare reform has been openly criticised for the huge divide that will seemingly bisect the UK upon full implementation next month. What many didn’t suspect was the legacy it could leave on sufferers of brain injury.

Charities throughout the country have voiced serious concerns about the level of care, irrespective of personal injury litigation, that will be available when the benefits shake-up takes hold.

Carers as well as brain injury patients will be affected

Welfare Reform will not only affect long-term patients.  There’s very real concern about the impact the cuts will have on carers, too.

Unlike skeletal or muscular injuries, brain injuries play a huge part in the welfare of victims’ psyche as well as possible subsequent nervous disorders.  These can also lead to physical disabilities if left unhindered.

It takes a very dedicated type of person to look after someone with severe brain injury. Rehabilitation at the earliest possible stage is vital to the sufferer if they are to lead anything like a normal life after such an incident.

The plausibility of such care now looks to be in jeopardy, if charities have assessed the situation accurately.

As someone who has recovered from brain injury herself, and continues to fight for others in the situation she found herself in, Julie Bridgewater of North London’s Headway brain injury charity is in a better position to judge the landscape than most.

Even before the welfare shake up, concern has been strongly voiced that adequate rehab simply does not exist for the majority of people recovering from severe brain injury.

Even successful personal injury litigation may not be enough

Her fears for the future are that even personal injury litigation will not be enough to ensure adequate facilities and levels of care.

“…many people…do not benefit from appropriate rehab at any time in their journey of reparation or re-adjustments to their life after brain injury.”

The problem lies in the fact that assessment for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is so very black and white, it cannot cater for conditions that develop over time following severe brain trauma.

Without adequate care, the chances of such conditions developing are greatly enhanced, as is the severity of their long-term impact.

If a sufferer is assessed at point a and their condition worsens at point b, the time it takes to get to point c, a tribunal with the DLA, and the lack of additional care afforded between those milestones can have a damning effect on the potential recoverability of the patient.

Hidden disabilities don’t fit the DWP black & white assessment criteria

These “hidden disability” aspects may not be apparent at any point until they actually materialise. The extra care and subsequent costs needed to cope with any such deterioration can be seriously compounded by unnecessary additional stress without immediate address.

Even now, there is much cause for concern about the way personal injury cases for brain injury are dealt with. Again, the ‘evidence’ purported in such cases may not show either the subtlety or extent of someone’s condition at that point.

The amount of cases that are won are few and far between. Although a Disability Living Allowance decision by the DWP is not a legally binding decision that holds sway in a personal injury case, there are few other yardsticks to measure such injuries by.

However, the problem doesn’t stop with any allowance or recuperation methods the sufferer has access to. Carers’ benefits are also being hit in the Welfare Reform makeover.

Julie concluded that a combination of both reduced benefits and care options for brain injury sufferers and carers alike will reduce imperative day-to-day care to such an extent that many will find themselves “hugely at risk” when Welfare Reform takes hold.