Three important documents include ‘Rehabilitation’ in their title, but each plays a very different role in helping the victims of major traumatic injuries achieve their optimum outcome and quality of life. This brief article outlines the part played by each of these documents and the value they bring to all those working in the PI sector.
The Rehabilitation Prescription
The Rehabilitation Prescription – commonly referred to as the ‘RP’ – is a document outlining the care and recommended ongoing rehabilitation needs of a patient receiving acute care in the NHS Trauma Network. Until recently, completion of the RP by a Major Trauma Centre would generate additional funding for the host NHS trust, thus incentivising MTCs to complete the document. Despite this, RPs are still not universally completed and many patients leaving hospital following major traumatic injury do not receive explicit guidance on their future rehabilitation needs.
The RP should be sent to the patient’s GP (to help access to statutory services) but should also be made available to case managers and legal teams if the patient is pursuing a PI claim. The RP provides a valuable opportunity to facilitate continuity of care between acute NHS care and community (state & private sector) rehabilitation services, which itself contributes to optimising outcome.
The NICE Guidelines on Rehabilitation after Traumatic Injury
The NICE Guidelines on Rehabilitation after Traumatic Injury (Ref. NG211 published 18 January 2022: www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng211) represent an extremely important step in raising awareness of the need for and potential benefits of specialist trauma rehabilitation. As in most fields of healthcare, NICE provides guidance on what ‘best practice’ looks like, based on available evidence and expert opinion, and these are the first iteration of such guidance in non-neurological specialist rehabilitation.
The Guidelines set out what elements of rehabilitation are needed to achieve optimum outcomes for those suffering major traumatic injuries and how these should be delivered – they provide much-needed support for improved quality and governance in rehabilitation. However, as is often the case, there may be significant differences between ‘best practice’ and the reality of access to services in the state or private sectors. Notwithstanding this shortfall in availability and expertise of provision, the NICE Guidelines do at least set out what those working within the field of major trauma rehabilitation should be aspiring to deliver. As such, all stakeholders within the PI healthcare sector should be familiar with how ‘best practice’ has now been defined by the NICE committee.
A significant challenge is to bridge the gap between recommendations made in the RP and the delivery of specialist rehabilitation that meets the NICE Guidelines standards. Improved awareness of the information contained within a patient’s RP enables all those supporting PI claimants to seek out the appropriate rehabilitation inputs needed to secure the best outcome. Used in conjunction with a knowledge of the NICE Guidelines, they can be more confident that those inputs are of the highest quality and most likely to deliver the intended outcome.
The Rehabilitation Code
The Rehabilitation Code has been in operation since 2015 and serves to provide a framework for legal teams to continue the claims process whilst also committing to delivering the much-needed rehabilitation in a timely manner. Thus the ‘Rehab Code’ is key to ensuring that funds are made available to access specialist rehabilitation provision.
Thus, each of these documents plays a key part in determining al client’s eventual outcome. Put very simply:
- Rehabilitation Prescription = what rehabilitation the person needs to achieve their optimum outcome – “what needs doing”
- NICE Guidelines = the ‘what, when, who & how’ of best practice trauma rehabilitation – “how it should be done”
- Rehabilitation Code = the process to help ensure access to appropriate rehabilitation – “how to access it”
But what does all this mean in practical terms? For those supporting the rehabilitation and recovery of victims of major traumatic injury, a knowledge of the contents of the RP alongside an understanding of the recommendations made within the NICE Guidelines can help to focus the accurate and informed commissioning of rehabilitation services to ensure high quality input, improved outcomes and greater confidence in the expected return on funds invested into a client’s rehabilitation.
It is incumbent on all those working with clients who have suffered life-changing traumatic injuries to have a thorough knowledge and understanding of the tools available to them that can help ensure the most clinically and cost-effective rehabilitation is made available to deliver the best possible outcomes. Raising awareness and informed collaboration through further education across all stakeholders within the PI sector is key to delivering this objective.
How Major Trauma Group can help
Major Trauma Group members are specialist solicitors who can guide you through making a claim for a complex injury.
The Major Trauma Group is a not-for-profit community interest company, made up of leading law firms from across the country who, together with clinicians, have pooled their knowledge and experience to assist major trauma victims and their families through the provision of legal advice and ancillary services. Initial chats with our member solicitors, are free and without obligation.
As well as a compensation claim, you and your family are also likely to need advice on a wide range of legal issues that may arise in the aftermath of a major trauma because of the impact it has on home and work life, family life, day to day activities and independence. You may need advice on employment issues, housing, welfare benefits, wills and probate or family issues. We can offer practical advice and help with financial matters and address concerns if you cannot work or have any financial concerns by way of obtaining interim payments. If you would like our help with making a personal injury claim or legal advice please get in touch.
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