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Parent secures changes to orthotics services by sharing her son’s experience
Speaking up about her son’s experience saw one woman help improve orthotics services for people across the country.
Rebecca’s son has needed orthotics support since he could stand. Such devices help people to move, to live independently, and to relieve pain.
When he was nine, Rebecca’s son’s orthopaedic surgeon recommended serial casting to set his foot straight. He should have had an ankle foot orthosis to wear immediately afterwards to keep his foot and ankle straight. However, it took 17 weeks for this to be made available, and within days he had lost all his mobility, and later had to undergo complex surgery.
All of this had a huge impact on his development, education and emotional wellbeing. To find out if this experience was common, Rebecca spoke to lots of other parents and found that many had had similar experiences, which left them feeling stressed and anxious. Although some services in the area were starting to make changes to address the issues, there was no action nationally. To help make sure services were listening to what these parents had to say, Rebecca contacted Healthwatch Staffordshire to share what she’d found.
Together with Healthwatch England, they spoke to NHS England which then agreed to create new standards, changing the way orthotics services were commissioned. Rebecca was also invited to review the final guidelines and she continues to spend her free-time making sure orthotics services are following the new rules.
Thanks to Rebecca’s determination, there have been major changes to orthotic services, not just in Staffordshire but across England. Children can now access orthotics support quickly, reducing the chances that they’ll need surgery, or to wait as Rebecca’s son did.
The more that people share their ideas, experiences and concerns about NHS and social care, the more services can understand when improvements are needed. But, to make the biggest difference, we need to hear from more people.
You can make a difference. Find out more about our #ItStartsWithYou campaign or share your experience with your local Healthwatch and help make services better for your community.