Wales politics

Chris Bryant challenges ministers on brain injury aftercare

Ben Newman
Image caption Ben Newman left hospital three weeks after being in a coma for three days

An MP has urged ministers to improve aftercare for brain injury patients in south Wales.

Rhondda MP Chris Bryant wants major improvements to neuro-rehabilitation services that are supported by charities and private healthcare.

There is no such centre in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board, for example, but ministers said they were committed to improving access to the services.

Someone with a brain injury goes into hospital every 90 seconds in the UK.

Referring to plans for a new trauma centre in south Wales, Labour MP Mr Bryant said the Welsh Government must "make sure that there's the support service all the way through so we're not just saving lives, we're giving people a quality of life".

Ben Newman, 33, from Rhondda, fell into the window of a house 10 years ago while out with his friends.

He was in a coma for three days in the Royal Glamorgan hospital in Llantrisant but after showing he could walk down a flight stairs was discharged three weeks later.

Years of difficulties with his balance, changes in his personality, memory and speech followed.

He became heavily dependent on aftercare.

Image caption Ben's stepfather, Phil Williams, says there was no instant support for his son

His stepfather Phil Williams said it was only thanks to Ben's mother that he was able to find services that could help, and even then it meant travelling to Cardiff several times a week.

"What became evident for us was the lack of instant support. There's no follow-up plan for Ben," Mr Williams said.

"It was down to his mother to research the internet."

A decade later the impact of that fall still affects Ben's life.

"I don't like to be in big groups, I can't be in more than one conversation at one time," he said.

"Even now, 10 years on, I still struggle with that."

Image caption Chris Bryant says a trauma centre will save lives but Wales needs to go further

The Welsh Government said it was "committed to improving access to neuro-rehabilitation services" in Wales.

"Our revised neurological conditions delivery plan sets out how people can access timely and effective care irrespective of where they live and whether care is delivered through hospitals or in the community.

"The plan also focuses on helping people live with their condition and aims to raise awareness, improve information and support research into causes and treatments."

You can see more on this story on Sunday Politics Wales at 11:00 BST on 7 July on BBC One Wales and then on the BBC iPlayer.

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