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Most spinal injuries are caused by road traffic accidents and sports injuries. The Spinal Injuries Association estimate that around 40,000 people are currently living with a spinal cord injury in the United Kingdom.
Around 825 people are treated each year in the 11 United Kingdom specialist spinal injuries centres. These are based in Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow, Middlesbrough, Oswestry, Sheffield, Southport, Stanmore, Stoke Mandeville, and Wakefield.
Patients with a spinal injury will be referred to a specialist centre following initial treatment at a local hospital.
Commissioning arrangements for specialised services, such as spinal injury services, have been strengthened by the publication in July 2006 of “Health Reform in England: Update and Commissioning Framework”. The framework was informed by the “Review of Commissioning Arrangements for Specialised Services”, under the leadership of Professor Sir David Carter, former Chief Medical Officer for Scotland.
Through specialised commissioning groups, primary care trusts work collectively to plan, commission and monitor specialised services for those with spinal injuries.
It is the responsibility of health professionals to assess the rehabilitation of all those living with spinal injuries.