What is the APPG on Spinal Cord Injury?
07 Jun 2021
by Ethos

At Ethos we deal every day with the challenges faced by our clients many of whom have a spinal cord injury. We know how important it is for our clients to feel that their voices are heard in the policy decisions that affect their everyday lives.

So we were delighted when our local MP Owen Paterson was appointed as the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Spinal Cord Injury. This influential group meets this week, on June 9, so what better time to explain what the APPG on SCI is and what it does.

Owen Paterson MP

Owen Paterson MP

Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of Parliament

What are All-Party Parliamentary Groups?

All-Party Parliamentary Groups are informal groups formed by MPs and Members of the House of Lords who share a common interest in a specific topic or policy area. The membership of an APPG is drawn from all the political parties in the Houses of Parliament. An APPG has no official status within Parliament but it can influence policy through its research, reports and debate. 


What is the APPG on Spinal Cord Injury?

The APPG on Spinal Cord Injury was set up after the Spinal Injuries Association campaigned for people with spinal cord injury to have a voice in Parliament. The SIA provides the secretarial support for the group.

What does it do?

The APPG’s official purpose is to address specific issues being faced by spinal cord injured people, particularly relating to medical treatment, care and support and developments in treatments, as well as the wider issues that affect the lives of people with SCI.

In 2015 the APPG worked with the Spinal Injuries Association to produce the influential report A Paralysed System? which highlighted the issues of delayed discharges and a lack of rehabilitation centres.

According to the Spinal Injuries Association, current priorities for the APPG include working with government and the NHS to address long-standing bed shortages in the national network of spinal cord injury centres. The shortage means that one third of people who sustain an SCI do not receive specialist acute care. 

The March meeting was attended by the Minister of State for Social Care Helen Whately MP who promised to restore specialist SCI beds which had been used during the pandemic to treat coronavirus patients.

Helen Whately MP

Helen Whately MP

Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of Parliament

Who are the members?

It is chaired by North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson whose constituency includes the Midlands Centre for Spinal Injuries at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Gobowen. He was also at patient at the centre in 2018 after a riding accident. 

The group has four vice chairs from the Houses of Parliament. They are Labour MP for Alyn and Deeside Mark Tami, crossbench member of the House of Lords Baroness Masham of Ilton, Conservative MP for Altrincham and Sale Sir Graham Davey and Conservative member of the House of Lords, Lord Tebbit. The group meets several times through the year and any MP or member of the House of Lords can attend.

How can you help?

You can ask your local MP to join the next APPG meeting. The SIA has written a template letter to send to your MP explaining why they should be taking an interest in this influential parliamentary group.  

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