Late in 2011 the Mid Yorkshire Hospital Trust issued a media release saying that it was considering closing the Regional Spinal Injuries Centre at Pinderfields Hospital. Furthermore it was considering moving the care of Spinal Cord Injured to Dewsbury Hospital, but as a significantly scaled down service, that would no longer take acute injuries and only focus on rehabilitation.
A small group of ex-patients and ex-staff came together to form a campaign group called ‘Keep Spinal Injuries at Pinderfields’ (KSIAP), Chaired by an ex-patient; Kevan Baker OBE. This group ran an assertive campaign with local press, contacting MP’s , rallying many ex-patients and resulting is presenting to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Spinal Cord Injury at Westminster.
Following the success of the campaign the MYHT amended its decision and agreed to continue with the Spinal Centre at Pinderfields. But in discussions with KSIAP it was indicated that a viable, professional Patient Support Group was needed at the Spinal Centre. This would help to ensure that the Spinal Centre would generally reverse its decline, develop, and once again work to become one of the best overall spinal centres in the country.
Kevan Baker wrote a strategy after speaking to the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) and the Manager of the only other Patient Support Group in the country (SPIN at Stoke Mandeville) and a general meeting was convened at the Spinal Centre in the Summer of 2012 with 50 ex-patients attending. The strategy was accepted and SPINE was born.
A Committee was elected and a Constitution developed and work began to establish work projects to address the key issues.
Today, in 2014, many partnerships have been developed, sponsors have been brought on board and the Spinal Centre continues to develop and flourish as a result of SPINE work; notably:
The Spinal Centre has a Business Plan
Relationships with MYHT are significantly better and growing
SPINE has built strong working relationships with Stepping Stones (the supporting Charitable Trust).
SPINE’s Chief Executive is a member of the Centre Management Team
SPINE has a voice at the national NHS Clinical Reference Group (helping drive the future of Spinal Care)
SPINE has representation on the MYHT Stakeholder Group (a shadow Board)
SPINE is working towards becoming a Registered Charity
Over and above this new activity groups have been developed; an art group for Patients called Arts@Pinders. A Wheelchair Rugby Squad has been established called Yorkshire Lions.
Parts of the Spinal Centre have been completely decorated; one paying respect to the rich history of Paralympic Sportsmen and Women who have received care at the Centre since 1960. Others are currently being planned to depict inspirational messages to new Patients, such as Love & Romance, Art, Poetry and Culture.
As we approach the 65th Anniversary of Spinal Cord Injury Care in 2017 at Pinderfields, the Centre is moving swiftly towards being on a sound footing for the future.
Kevan baker OBE
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