The last 30 years have seen significant growth in neurological rehabilitation in the UK and I have played some role in that growth.
In the early 1990s I was President of the British Society of Rehabilitation Medicine, which represents rehabilitation physicians in the UK. Over the last 30 years it has grown from a new society with a handful of members to a thriving specialist society with 350 members and an active education, teaching and conference programme. I was on the executive as Treasurer until November 2017
I chaired the Joint Speciality Committee on Rehabilitation Medicine, part of the Royal College of Physicians, as well as the Specialist Advisory Committee, the body responsible for the oversight of physicians training in rehabilitation medicine and for the approval of training programmes.
I was also a Founder Trustee of the MS Trust, now a significant force in the world of multiple sclerosis, responsible for the initiation of MS nurses across the country. The MS Trust now hosts an annual conference recognised as the highlight of the year for nurses, therapists and other clinicians involved with multiple sclerosis.
Supporting people with brain injury in the UK
The last few years has seen the growth of similar supportive groups for people with brain injury. The United Kingdom Acquired Brain Injury Forum (UKABIF) is a coordinating body for clinicians, professionals and survivors, with the primary role to raise awareness of acquired brain injury. I was Chair from January 2008 until November 2017. UKABIF is now affiliated to over 20 local and regional acquired brain injury forums and represents clinicians in the statutory, private and charitable sector as well as others involved in the field, such as personal injury lawyers and survivors of brain injury.
In 2012 I established INPA (Independent Neurorehabilitation Providers Alliance). This is an organisation that represents all key providers of neurorehabilitation facilities in the independent sector. We strive to improve standards in the field and lobby for better services. I was Chair from inception to 2018.
In 2017 we established the ABI Alliance. This represents all the brain injury and related charities in the UK and aims to lobby government for better ABI services. Our first "project" is to get the Rehabilitation Prescription more widely used and recognised. I was Chair until 2019
I have been fortunate enough to be at the forefront of the development of neurological rehabilitation across the world at a time of initiation and growth of the specialty. I have lectured widely on many aspects of neurological rehabilitation and given over 200 plenary and guest lectures at international conferences.
In 1996 I organised the first World Congress in Neurological Rehabilitation, held in Newcastle. Following the success of this congress, the World Federation for NeuroRehabilitation (WFNR) was formed and I was Founder President until 2008. The success of the WFNR has stimulated the development of over 40 national societies in neurological rehabilitation across the world and 34 Special Interest Groups. We hold an international conference every two years - the next in Lyons in 2020.
I was elected to the membership of the European Academy of Rehabilitation Medicine in 2000, a body of the 50 most senior rehabilitation doctors in Europe.
In 1989 I formed Action for Disability, a registered charity that initially raised money for local disability initiatives in the North East but in later years focussed on education and training in rehabilitation centres in developing countries. Action for Disability was responsible for teaching courses in Bosnia, Latvia and Moldova and supported some excellent community rehabilitation projects in Tanzania, India and Pakistan. It continues to support projects in India, Chernobyl and Tanzania and has raised over £1m in funding.