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Patients with spinal injuries left in hospital longer due to equipment disputes

Nearly a quarter (23%) of patients at the nine specialist spinal injury centres in England had their discharge delayed in 2016/17, NHS data shows.

Many patients with serious spinal injuries are finding themselves stuck in hospital for much longer than necessary because of disputes between commissioners and providers over the equipment they need to go home, it has been claimed.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of patients at the nine specialist spinal injury centres in England had their discharge delayed in 2016/17, NHS data shows.

The Health Service Journal (HSJ), which compiled the research, said it found the delays were often because providers and both NHS and local government commissioners, could not agree who should fund equipment.

It told of one case where a patient was left in hospital for five months while he waited for the specialist equipment he needed to leave, while another waited nine months for respiratory equipment.

One clinician, who did not want to be identified, said: “Where somebody needs expensive, bespoke equipment it’s difficult to find out who is responsible for ordering that. It is a big deal.”

A spokesman for the Spinal Injuries Association said: “It is unacceptable that SCI (spinal cord injury) people are prevented from returning home from hospital whilst local providers squabble over the vital equipment they need to live an independent and fulfilling life.

“Delays in essential equipment provision are a significant cause of delayed discharge across the country.

“They cause blockages in the system, which keeps other newly injured people from accessing highly specialised SCI health services.”

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